CHILDREN from special needs schools across the county faced off against Cybermen and Daleks in Radlett on Wednesday, enlisting the help of Doctor Who assistant Ace and two soap stars.

Eastenders actor Jake Wood, who plays Max Branning, and co-star Derek Martin, better known as cuddly cabbie Charlie Slater, visited the Radlett Centre in Aldenham Avenue along with former Doctor Who star turned television presenter Sophie Aldred, to watch musical and theatrical performances by the schools.

Among the hundreds of pupils filling the hall at yesterday's variety showcase were pupils from St Luke's in Crouch Hall Lane, Redbourn and Watling View, who arrived eager to perform their well-rehearsed routines.

Julia Laird, a teacher at Watling View, said: "We did a performance called How the birds got their colours' which was based on an aboriginal story.

"The children did really well and they really enjoyed their day - it's a wonderful event."

Pupils from St Luke's also wowed the audience with a hip-shaking, Caribbean-themed dance medley.

Organiser of the annual event, dubbed The Variety of Britain, Julie Banes said she was regularly touched by the impact the shows had on children.

She said: "The talent among the children is amazing and the care and devotion of the teachers is wonderful. "It's great to see the children being encouraged, applauded and rewarded for their skills."

But between gracing the stage and grabbing autographs from the celebrity guests, children were also entertained by magicians and a scene from Doctor Who featuring original cast member Sophie Aldred.

Sophie, who joined the mysterious time-traveller on his adventures in the late eighties, said: "When I heard about the event I knew I had to be here.

"Seeing how talented these children are is eye opening and tear jerking."