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BBC does fairy tales

23/05/2007. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Bernard Hill, Paul Nicholls, Mathew Horne and Sarah Smart star in Billy Goat, the first of four comedy dramas brought to life by contemporary writers, as part of a modern anthology of fairy tales for BBC One. The boss is a troll. Nice.

The series was commissioned by BBC Northern Ireland and is made by Hat Trick Productions in association with Northern Ireland Screen.

Filming begins in Northern Ireland this month.

Billy Goat writer Jeremy Dyson (co-creator Funland, The League Of Gentlemen) told SFcrowsnest, "I've always loved The Three Billy Goats Gruff. This was my favourite fairy tale and, like any good story, it resonates today - people wanting to achieve more, discovering if the grass really is greener on the other side."

Jeremy's reworked version brings the story up-to-date and centres on "Billy Goat", a boy band made up of brothers Connor (Paul Nicholls, Good Bye Charlie Bright, A Thing Called Love) and Dean Gruff (Mathew Horne, Gavin And Stacey, The Catherine Tate Show) and friend Rafiq Bhavani (played by newcomer Nick Mohammed).

They enjoy local success in Northern clubs but crave pastures new and fame and fortune.

However, there is one major stumbling block, their manager is a troll. In this world, trolls live side-by-side with humans and Billy Goat are unfortunate enough to have bagged a canny and threatening troll as their manager, Grettongrat, played by Bernard Hill (Great Expectations, Lord Of The Rings).

He might eat mice as snacks, but this troll knows the music business and he's got them locked in a watertight contract.

Patrick Spence, Head of Drama, BBC Northern Ireland says: "It's great to be following in the footsteps of Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare. These are four great stories brought to life in a thoroughly modern way by four great writers. I'm also delighted that we're filming in Northern Ireland and I can't wait to see the results."

Mark Redhead, Executive Producer, Hat Trick Productions, added, "The anthology includes tales made popular by the Grimms, Andersen and Perrault and many of these stories have been around for centuries. In this collection of reworked comedy dramas, these timeless tales lend themselves so wholly to new, modern and hugely entertaining versions."

Sarah Smart (Five Days, At Home With The Braithwaites) stars as Carol Gruff, Connor's down to earth wife; Holliday Grainger (Waking The Dead, Waterloo Road) plays Leeza Gruff, his teenage daughter; and Moya Brady (Matchpoint, Pride And Prejudice) is Olive, the troll's able assistant.

The other fairy tales featured in the anthology are The Emperor's New Clothes, Cinderella and Rapunzel. Further details to be announced.

Billy Goat is produced by Hannah Pescod, executive produced by Mark Redhead, and the director is Euros Lyn. Fairy Tales will be shot in Northern Ireland with the support of Northern Ireland Screen.

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