UK TV review: Cinderella: After Ever After
James R | On 25, Dec 2019
What happens after ever after? That’s the question that’s plagued savvy kids and sceptical parents for generations after reading fairy tales. The idea of a TV programme exploring that – and at Christmas, no less – could easily be the recipe for a downbeat, dramatic sequel. Cinderella: After Ever After, though, is nothing of the sort: it’s a hilarious romp through fairytale conventions and greatly misinformed expectations.
Sian Gibson, of Car Share fame, stars as Cinderella, who has just married Prince Charming (David Walliams). But life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in their picture-perfect kingdom. The Kign (Tom Courtenay) is a frustrating dimwit. Her evil stepmother, Madame Blackheart (Celia Imrie), is, well, an evil stepmother. And Prince Charming is anything but.
Blackheart’s plan, inevitably, is to marry the king and poison him so she can rule the kingdom in his wake. Assisted by Dumbella and Rubella, her cruel but clueless stepsisters, it’s a plot that even a fool could spy a mile off. Unfortunately for Cinders, she’s surrounded by nothing but fools. David Walliams is the queen of them all, with his image-obsessed, floss-dancing Prince doing nothing that vaguely resembles being a good husband from the moment they say their vows.
He raps badly, gives speeches poorly, considers other people rarely and will do absolutely anything to get a free tan. Whether he’s shoving people out of his way or going on a spot of peasant-hunting, Walliams is laugh-out-loud funny throughout, from his insipid line delivery to his over-the-top physical presence.
Gibson, meanwhile, is as likeable and down-to-earth as ever, grounding the absurd events with a deadpan frustration and no end of patience – the perfect foil for Madame Blackheart’s wonderfully cartoonish villain, as Celia Imrie relishes the chance to dial everything up to 11. Throw in an amusingly enthusiastic Ellen Thomas as a useless Fairy Godmother and you have a cast that’s bursting with energy and chemistry.
They’re given a brilliant script to work with, with The Dawson Brothers (That Mitchell & Webb Look) stuffing every page with countless jokes, from background visual jokes to quick-fire one-liners – a mix that recalls Monty Python, Blackadder and Horrible Histories at their best. When you’ve stopped laughing at the journalists from the Bubonic Plague Post, up pops Thomas’ Godmother to give Cinderella a new pair of glass slippers, because they turned out so helpful last time.
The result is a surprisingly subversive (watch out for Buttons the mouse), wonderfully entertaining hour that is a genuine treat for the whole family.