A cinema audience was surprised this afternoon when a 15-rated film was accidentally shown instead of a family animation.

Victoria McDicken, a children's social worker from Loddon, took her seven-year-old granddaughter to a screening of Trolls Band Together at the Palace Cinema in Gorleston.

But a programming error meant that the 15+ black comedy Dream Scenario was played instead of the U-rated cartoon.

Ms McDicken said: "Before the film started we had 45 minutes of ads that were just really inappropriate. Normally before a children's film you would see lots of animated ads.

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"At one point the trailer for Napoleon came on and it showed a beheading - there were a load of children in there aged three, four and five years old and they were really upset by what they were watching.

"That's when some people walked out with their children.

"When the film started and the credits came up, it was a 15 called Dream Scenario."

Ms McDicken said a member of staff ran into the theatre and ushered everyone away. 

She says she was offered a refund and a discounted return ticket but did not feel her complaint was taken seriously by the management.

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"There was no manager at the cinema so we had to wait an hour for him to drive in," she said. "If he had acknowledged it was serious when he arrived I wouldn't feel this way about it but he told me it wasn't illegal and they didn't even have a complaints form to fill out."

She added: "I'm a children's social worker and I know what trauma does to children - that's not to say it would be to that level, but these kids could go home and have bad dreams."

A spokesman for the cinema said: "Due to a programming error Trolls had replaced the weekday scheduled movie but the change had not been saved, hence the trailers for the scheduled movie started.

"Once realised the staff requested everyone to leave and switched off the trailers. 

"The staff were indeed apologetic for the inconvenience and refunded the money and gave them a complimentary showing, which is normal when an unusual event or technical failure occurs."

He continued: "Fortunately any occurrence is rare but I find it disturbing that someone would feel we were dismissive given the circumstances it was as much as we could do - we take all incidents seriously and always make efforts to make sure people enjoy their visit. 

"The film did not show - it was just the trailers and it was purely accidental.

"All of us make an odd mistake and although it should not have happened I would have hoped any negative impact was lessened by the quick action taken by staff and additionally managed by parents."