THE ancient Dorset art of nurdling made a welcome return to Upwey in Weymouth for a televised display.

The game, which involves hurling a wooden block called a nurdle at other players, will be shown on the unusual pastimes section of BBC One's Saturday morning breakfast show.

Weymouth-based nurdlers turned out in strange clothes and headgear to draw attention to the game that dates as far back as the 1500s in some accounts.

The Serjeant of the game, Albert the Tall, more commonly known as Bill Crumbleholme, says echoes of the game can be seen in the new Hollywood blockbuster Beowulf.

Potter and website designer Mr Crumbleholme, of Elwell Street, Upwey, said: "Some people believe ancient tribes like the Geats and the Scots would play a similar game to this as a form of training.

"The new film Beowulf is full of nurdlers, running around with shields and spears which are similar to our fenders and grouting poles."

Mr Crumbleholme is currently writing a book on the history of the game which cites references to it being played as far back as 1602 in Cornwall. Another account in the book says it was also played in Dorset in 1583.

Mr Crumbleholme said: "We usually do this two or three times a year but we're putting on this display for the sports programme.

"The basic difference in nurdling is that we hurl to what we call the country and in other games like football and hockey you hurl to the goal.

"The game is still played between Portesham and Abbotsbury although it's not as competitive now as it used to be."

A nurdling logbook has been kept for years describing tourneys to have taken place in the past.

Nurdler Geoff Kirby, who has been playing since the 1960s, said: "It can be a bit dangerous, which is why we yell before we throw the nurdle. I used to play this game at Egdon Hill and the aim was to get it off the alley and on to the train tracks for others to retrieve - carefully, of course."

BBC reporter Mike Bushell said: "I heard about the game when I was here on holiday and someone suggested I should come down and give it a go myself."

He said he expects the event to be televised on December 8.