WEYMOUTH’s award-winning donkeys have been snubbed in favour of ‘professional’ ones as a TV show films on the beach.

BBC One’s The Magicians will perform an illusion to make a donkey disappear next Wednesday in a show featuring magic man Pete Firman and former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Philips.

Despite initially considering a Weymouth beach donkey for the role show executives decided to cast another animal which has done TV and stage work.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council had hoped that the local donkeys could have been used in the show and suggested this to the show’s producers.

Weymouth beach donkeys – owned by West Hill Beach Donkeys – give children traditional rides on the sands. They have won a clutch of awards including a welfare standard accolade last month and were seen by the Queen during her visit to the resort in 2009.

Council spokesman for culture, tourism and community facilities Andy Blackwood said: “A production company is in negotiations with the borough council about filming on Weymouth Beach for a programme called ‘The Magicians’.

“We hope that the award-winning donkeys will be able to be used in the filming but it is at the company’s decision.”

A spokesman for Shine TV, which makes the BBC show, said: “We had been in contact with Weymouth’s very own donkeys, but unfortunately the licensing law says they must be accompanied by a trainer that is licensed for TV.

“We chose a professional working donkey because we also know it can handle the pressure and won’t get spooked by a big audience either.

“The donkey in question has done a lot of television work and has even appeared on stage at the Royal Albert Hall.

“We hope that people will come down and witness something magical.”

The idea around the show is that professional magicians teach well known celebrities how to do magic.

Comedian and magician Pete Firman, who has appeared in Channel 4’s Dirty Tricks and performed alongside singer Rihanna in ITV’s ‘For One Night Only’ will perform the trick.

He will be accompanied by celebrity assistant, dance choreographer and former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Philips, from 1pm next Wednesday.

Producers are urging local people to head down to the beach and be part of the audience for the episode, which will be broadcast on February 4, 2012.

West Hill Beach Donkeys owner Melanie Rush said: “It is a shame that the show’s producers couldn’t use us – we have a donkey that would have been perfect for the role.”