Fairy Tales

Sunday 25 May, 10.30pm

Classic fairy tales are transformed into fresh, modern comedy dramas by contemporary writers.

The Empress’ New Clothes: Meet Michaela (Denise Van Outen), an uncompromising slave to fashion and star of Empire State, a top TV soap opera. Surrounded by a coterie of fawning stylists and advisers, Michaela is hell-bent on outshining her co-star and arch-rival Shekeelia (Koel Purie) at the Silver Sphere Awards, the highlight in the soap opera calendar. When Michaela meets Shannon (Liz White), wife of Jake, the hot new chef at her local bar Amber’s, she decides to make Shannon her new pet project. Shannon spots Shekeelia sneaking into the new designer clothes shop opposite Amber’s, and dutifully informs Michaela, who vows to out-dress her rival at the awards and make it onto the front pages of the tabloids.

Sunday 18 May, 10.30pm

Classic fairy tales are transformed into fresh, modern comedy dramas by contemporary writers.

Probably the best known of all fairy tales, the original story of Cinderella is thought to date back to 9th-century China. This fresh take on the classic tale is a comic and light-hearted one, but that’s not to say that the writing team didn’t take their responsibilities seriously. “The story of Cinderella, which has been around for at least 2000 years, addresses all the big fairy tale issues: oppression, injustice and empowerment… Oh, and getting dressed up in a fabulous outfit, obviously!” says writer Richard Pinto.
“From an adult perspective, Cinderella can be seen as either a story about a girl who is forced to conform to male expectations of her (dressing up in a pretty dress to win her man), or as a story about a girl who is determined to get to the top and will use whatever methods she can to make it happen. We’ve taken something from each of these ‘alternative Cinderellas’. Many would argue that it’s the most famous of all fairy tales, so it was a daunting task to take something so well known and tell it in a new way, but I hope we’ve stayed true to the original spirit of the story.”

Richard Pinto and Anil Gupta have set their version in the world of anthropology, at a bustling university and asks the question: Who is really responsible for the evolution of the human race, man or woman?

The romantic comedy features the devilishly charismatic Professor Prince (James Nesbitt), who believes that the ‘male of the species’ is the reason we are all here today, and university cleaner Cindy (Maxine Peake) who, despite her lack of academic education, is determined to prove him wrong.

Gupta explains: “In our version, Cindy is a cleaner at a university. She is deeply fascinated by anthropology, but despite being very bright and having a broad knowledge (self-taught) of the subject, she doesn’t have the qualifications to pursue her dream of becoming an academic. She’s kept in her place by two research students, Phoebe and Fenola (our ‘ugly sisters’), and the Head of the Anthropology department, Professor Brooks (the ‘wicked stepmother’).

Gupta continues: “We also looked at the archaeological and anthropological debate surrounding the Great Leap Forward, a contentious period in human evolution when our ancestors suddenly became the dominant species on Earth.

“Basically we still don’t know why humans ‘made it’ and Neanderthals didn’t, but we think it’s either down to the feminine skills of language and communication, or the masculine skills of speed and agility. Basically, the answer to this question is the ultimate answer to the battle of the sexes: who’s best, men or women? This provides the bone of contention (bad pun, I know) between our two protagonists.”