Culturally sensitive audience members attending this year's Christmas panto at Leicester's De Montfort Hall will be pleased to find that Snow White's seven dwarfs have been cut in favour of a septet of "friends".
According to the Leicester Mercury*, a spokeswoman for the theatre explained that the term "dwarf" is "generally not a word that people feel comfortable with", so it's off to the dole office for Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sneezy and Sleepy.
However, De Montfort Hall's piece of political correctness has not found favour with Harry Potter and Star Wars actor Warwick Davis.
Expressing doubts that De Montfort Hall had "questioned the audience about whether or not they think the word dwarf is offensive", he said: "Personally, I find it quite patronising when people are offended on our behalf."
"I'm sure there are those out there who don't like the term, but as a short actor I want to be given the choice about whether I appear in panto or not. I don't want someone making that decision for me," he added.
Davis added: "Saying that, I think it's all a smokescreen anyway. The profit margins for pantos are not very big and it's obviously much cheaper to involve schoolchildren than it is to pay lots of professional short actors."
De Montfort Hall's Snow White may be short on dwarfs, but it does feature Benidorm and Loose Women’s Sherrie Hewson in the lead role, while Britain’s Got Talent finalist Jon Clegg plays the Jester.
The panto's blurb adds that as "an extra treat for children, the show also has a special guest appearance by CBeebies’ megastar Justin Fletcher as the Magic Mirror, where he will appear as a pre-recorded video".
With no sign of the long-awaited Sky Atlantic Ewoks spin-off, and Peter Jackson seemingly done with the rings (not that they were actual dwarfs anyway), opportunities for little people remain limited.®
* Via Quirker and occasional El Reg contributor Michael Moran.