LONDON tube drivers are using strike action as a cover so they can stage last-minute rehearsals of their new production of The Mikado.
The RMT union has closed off more than 80% of the network despite repeated claims from leader Bob Crow that the action was in protest at an increase in chubby fund managers on the Central Line.
An RMT insider said: "It all started at last year's TUC conference when Bob was boasting about how brilliant our Mikado would be.
"Paul Kenny of the GMB took exception and started screaming about how his production of HMS Pinafore would not only be miles better, but they'd do it with less rehearsal time than us.
"Bob Crow is not a man who shies away from a challenge. He also happens to be a bloody brilliant Yum-Yum."
The source added: "Most of the shutdown is for main chorus rehearsal. But this is also a very modern production and we've incorporated quite a bit of improv which means we've had to use other bits of the network for character workshopping."
Commuter Roy Hobbs, from High Barnet, who uses the unaffected Northern line said: "Strangely enough I was standing on the platform at Tottenham Court Road the other day and I thought I heard a very faint and if I may say, massively under-rehearsed, rendition of 'Three Little Maids'.
"I assumed it was a mobile ringtone, but now you come to mention it, it all makes perfect sense."
The GMB's Paul Kenny added: "If you think you know Pinafore, think again."