What if the real story only starts when the fairytale ends?
That’s the premise behind Sky’s new festive comedy After Ever After, which stars Sian Gibson as Cinderella and David Walliams as Prince “Charmo” Charming. Sadly, as Charmo and his pals bust out a laughably bad (and terribly long) dance routine to MC Hammer at the wedding, Cinderella starts to realise that her new husband may not be her perfect match after all. Especially because he keeps calling her “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty”…
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Even worse, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother (Celia Imrie) has come up with an evil plan to marry the doddery King (Tom Courtenay) and take over the kingdom; Cinderella and her trusty mouse Buttons (Kevin Bishop) must save him from her clutches.
Naturally, there are also lots of toilet jokes – and even a character farting herself to death. But there are some clever lines in there, too.
“I’ve always thought, when I try to write children’s books, I don’t want to make them kid-sy, “said Walliams, who co-created and wrote the drama alongside Tim Inman, Steve Dawson and Andrew Dawson.
“I mean, there are things that are whimsical and lovely, like Beatrix Potter or something – you go, ‘Oh that’s lovely, but it’s quite whimsical, isn’t it?’ But that’s not the sort of thing I try to write.”
The Britain’s Got Talent judge and Little Britain star is also a bestselling children’s author of books including Gangster Granny, The Boy in the Dress and Grandpa’s Great Escape.
“I’ve always thought I wanted a bit of an edge, because when I was growing up I always wanted to watch the things that I wasn’t allowed to watch,” he said. “I always wanted to stay up and watch Not The Nine O’Clock News or The Young Ones or something; I wanted to watch Monty Python films and Mel Brooks films. So I’ve always tried to make things feel a little bit naughty. I think kids respond to that.”
He added: “It’s nice to do something for kids that’s got a bit of an edge to it. I always think the best things for kids work for the grown-ups too.”
And the rags-to-riches whirlwind romance of Cinderella was the ideal starting point for After Ever After.
“Actually if you think about the end point of the story, there’s lots still to tell,” he said. “The wicked stepmother’s still alive, the ugly sisters are still alive, you know – Cinderella has just met Prince Charming, how is that marriage going to work out?”
This version of the classic tale is less “traditional” – reflecting a more modern mindset: “Now people are much more likely to question whether it’s a good idea to meet someone at a ball and immediately marry them, because their name is Charming and they’re kind of good looking. Well – not in this version!”
“The old Cinderella’s a bit wet isn’t she?” added Sian Gibson, who decided to take part after her own young daughter read (and loved) the script.
“I think it is nice to have a feisty Cinderella who questions everything, rather than in the original [where] she meets this guy and gets married the next day. I think these days your Moanas and your Frozens, there’s more to these women than just wanting a man at the end of the day; they want more than that.
“I think what’s nice about this, as well: it’s not just about the relationship. Cinderella is trying to save the king and that’s the other storyline going through it… and I just think it’s a nicer message.”
Cinderella: After Ever After will air on Tuesday 24th December 2019 at 8pm on Sky One and NOW TV, with a repeat on Christmas Day at 5pm