WINCHESTER Theatre Royal has been hit a heavy blow with the move of the district into Tier 4.

The theatre has had to cancel the remaining shows of Four Dames in Search of a Panto which had been due to run until the start of the New Year.

The show, which replaced the traditional sell-out pantomime, was seen as a safe way for venue to rescue something from the financially-disastrous year.

A spokeswoman for the theatre said: "With Winchester going into Tier 4 we are devastated to have to cancel the remaining performances of Four Dames in Search of a Panto and once again close the doors of Theatre Royal Winchester.

"We would like to thank our community for supporting us this year. We look forward to a better 2021 - fingers crossed it's not too long before we are able to re-open and bring live performance back to Winchester."

A fund-raising campaign launched in the summer raised more than £225,000 theatre immediate future.

The socially distanced, panto-styled show was created by the same team behind the annual pantos - written and directed by James Barry with original music by Simon Slater, and starring Julian Eardley, Ed Thorpe, Libby Gore and Tom Attwood.

The cancellation of the panto also throws into doubt the Winchester Comedy Festival Comedy Gala due to be held on Friday January 15, featuring stand-ups Paul McCaffrey, Sally-Anne Hayward, Tom Deacon and James Gill.