THESPIANS will clash swords when one of Hampshire’s oldest and most world renowned ancient festive shows dramatically returns to town.

Nearly 1,000 people are expected to flock to Crookham on Boxing Day for the village’s highly anticipated Mummers Play.

The flagship show – one of the oldest of its kind in the country – is at the forefront of one of the country’s strangest post Christmas traditions and has pulled in huge crowds since launching in 1870.

The festival is recognised as one of the most authentic Mummers in the world famed with its raucous outdoor tradition showcased widely in the national media both on television, the radio and in numerous books and folk customs.

There are four showings held at different locations in the village with actors and actresses sporting costumes made from wallpaper.

The action-packed 25-minute showcase features jokes and colourful clothing with characters collecting money for charity.

The play stars King George, England’s hero battling adversaries Bold Slasher, Bold Roamer and a Turkish Knight.

There is a Doctor who has a gruesome yet comic miracle cures you won’t get on the NHS and St Nick (or is it Old Nick) acts as a circus ringmaster before taking on Johnny Jack, a sailor from the press gang.

Topical jokes and ad-libs mean no two performances are the same.

Long-time Mummer, Tom Dommett who has been performing in the play every year since 1982, said: “Going to see the Mummers is the perfect way to get away from the television, get a bit of exercise, have a laugh and share in a community spirit and a sense of history."

“There are two styles of Mummers play, the raucous, break the swords, throw the performer in a puddle, pour water down the trousers Crookham style and the dull, stylised, don’t scare the horse’s style most other Mummers teams use.”

Showings are being held from noon outside The Exchequer, 12.45pm at the Black Horse, 1.30pm at the Crescent Garden and outside the Queens Head in Dogmersfield at 2pm.

It is free to watch ans all donations will go to the Fleet, Crondall and Crookham Welfare Trust, which helps the elderly with heating bills.