I planned, as I typed my last few words of Pride and Prejudice, to
stay well clear of Storytime for a while. But even as my brain
wondered about what to write next, I contemplated something with
Martha in - and before I knew where I was, I was writing another
storytime thing. It's like a terrible curse I just can't escape...
This Time Round / Look Who's Talking
Storytime: Beauty and the Beast
by V. Jewitt
(In which the Master returns to the creche, Harriet Jones gets her
revenge, the Tenth Doctor gets a shock and Martha has to try and put
everything right. With obligatory dead mother, invisible servants,
roses, and an actual happy ending).
Izzy was in a thoughtful mood. Storytime was becoming a regular
problem. Either she couldn't get anyone willing to face the toddlers,
or she got someone only too ready, but for their own evil ends. She'd
turned to Barbara as a schoolteacher and even she had managed to read
Pride and Prejudice. It was all getting out of hand.
Her solution had been to pointedly ignore the Book, leaving it sulking
on the shelf while she held up big book versions of The Very Hungry
Caterpillar and We're All Going On A Bear Hunt. While those picture
book classics never failed with even the most demanding of pre-school
groups, her gang of toddlers were missing the 'funny people' - and
they were all asking for one storyteller in particular.
Harry Saxon had been a hit at the creche, but the truth was he was the
latest incarnation of the Master and his stories tended to be
irresponsible and usually gory. The problem was, his brand of madness
suited the children down the ground, and his insistence that children
enjoyed bloodthirsty fairy tales had turned out to be truer than Izzy
liked to admit.
Izzy sighed, because she'd thrown him out last time he came here - and
she'd made a vow not to allow any more villains to make the creche
their playground instead of the toddlers'. But she was getting tired
of sulks and tantrums and demands for Dr Watson and Mr Saxon, instead
of Can't You Sleep Little Bear.
"Are you still interested in storytelling?"
The newest Master leant back in his chair. "Might be."
"Well, I'm willing to let you back, under certain conditions -."
"Oh, *are* you? And who says I'm willing to come?"
Izzy flipped through her notebook. "Just about everyone else I've
spoken to. Your original incarnation says you've been wandering about
the Round moaning and tripping people up for fun, because the only
good thing in Nameless, aside from watching Nyssa kill Adric, is
Storytime and you can't get back in since the Rani made her attempt."
"Well, maybe I am, then. What conditions? I'm not telling nice
little sparkly stories about fairies. That's not what your children
want, is it? If it was, you wouldn't be here, *begging* me to come
She gritted her teeth and reminded herself that there would be no more
screaming tonight and she could sit back and listen to the story
instead of struggling to read Each Peach Pear Plum. "Yes. So, you
can come back under these conditions: tonight you tell a story in
front of me and if there is anything I think is inappropriate -."
"I take it you're not including behaviour from the characters
yourselves. You know what they're like."
"Yes," agreed Izzy, understanding exactly what he meant. Who
characters randomly sandwiched into a traditional story usually
equalled chaos and unexpected endings. "I choose the story. On any
following occasions, if I'm not there, one or two of the children will
be briefed to tell me if you tell any more stories where people lose
their heads, get shot or you do the upsetting version of the Three
Little Pigs. And it won't always be Mel, so don't even think about
He grinned back at her. "Why not?"
Izzy only hoped that she was not going to regret this. While it
wasn't *exactly* his fault, it was his stories that had led to those
repeated and disturbing attempts at singing from Jamie and Zoe, the
Rani thinking she could tell stories as well as conduct scientific
experiments, and a dwarf protest from seven disgruntled Doctors.
The Master looked round at the children mock-sternly. "Are we all
sitting comfortably? Are all you horrible little brats prepared to
listen to my exciting tale of -" he turned to the Book again with some
reluctance, "-Beauty and the Beast? Izzy, can't I at least do
Rumpelstiltskin or Rapunzel?"
Izzy folded her arms.
"Oh, all right. Peri, I told you before that rubbing your sticky
little fingers over my shoes is *not* cleaning them." Catching Izzy's
expression, he added swiftly, "But I'm sure you meant it well!" And
patted her head.
NARRATOR / MASTER
Once upon a time, there lived a spoilt young prince in a big castle.
He thought of no one but himself and did whatever he liked.
[The TENTH DOCTOR / PRINCE wanders around Castle Gracht]
PRINCE / TEN
Is that really a fair description of my character? I bet that's the
Master again! I've heard about you.
It had *nothing* to do with me. If it did, we'd be doing Rapunzel and
someone could have thrown you out a tower window into a thornbush.
Oh well. [Throws priceless painting into the moat for the fun of it]
What next? Let me see -.
TENANT FARMER / FIFTH DOCTOR [knocking on the door]
Your highness, there's still a problem with that Giant Robot in
I haven't got time. Go away! [As FIFTH DOC wanders away, looking put
out] I've still got to deal with the Wirrn infestation in the North
Tower, plus that Count Grendel keeps swimming around in the moat and
SERVANT / NIMROD
Master, you have not yet paid me my wages.
Is everyone deaf? I have too much to do! I can't possibly fight the
Wirrn, duel with Grendel, deal with the Giant Robot, explore the
spaceship in the cellar *and* pay your wages. Besides, I never have
the right money.
The fang of a cave bear would be sufficient, master.
PRINCE / TEN
Well, where am I supposed to get one of those from? It's a bit
unreasonable - and it sounds like cruelty to animals to me, thank you
Your father always managed to find me one. Mutter mutter.
Until one day, an old crone came to his castle door, begging for
HARRIET JONES [dressed in a black hooded cloak, holding a basket and
knocking at the door]
Who are you calling an *old crone*?
NARRATOR / MASTER
Oh, look - it's my predecessor.
Hello? Is there anyone there? It's raining out here and I'd like to
NIMROD / SERVANT
I shall just fetch my master. Wait in the hall.
[Behind her, COUNT GRENDEL slips in. As TEN / PRINCE arrives, HARRIET
is tapping her foot impatiently.]
TEN/ PRINCE [spying GRENDEL]
You! Get out at once! [Draws his sword].
[GRENDEL curses and slips out, diving into the moat again.]
This is appalling treatment for a poor, defenceless, old woman. Who's
not *that* old, I have to add, but still. Young man, this is your
unlucky day - I am in truth your fairy godmother-.
Just a fairy.
HARRIET / CRONE
Well, whatever I am, I have a magic wand and it's my turn to put an
end to *your* reign!
TEN / PRINCE [As she waves the wand with great job satisfaction]
Wait! I wasn't even talking to you. That's not fair - argh!!
[The lights go out. When they come back on, the OLD CRONE has gone]
Yes, for his selfish behaviour, the old woman had cursed the young
prince to stay in the form of a beast until someone came along who
could love him for himself.
TEN / BEAST
Gotta find a mirror. What has that mad old woman done? I can hardly
see a thing in this. [Shuffles off to find a mirror and takes a good
NIMROD / SERVANT [running in]
Oh dear, a beast has eaten the Master. I shall never get paid now. I
think I had better leave in search of the cave bear myself. [Walks
out the door].
TEN / BEAST [recovering]
Of all the things to turn into. The shame of it - I'm a Taran Wood
Izzy glared at the Master. "Stop laughing, or we'll never get this
He wiped the tears from his eyes. "I take it all back, Izzy. You can
choose any story you like."
She folded her arms and said, with emphasis, "Yes, and I *will*."
The Prince was now in big trouble, since who was going to stop
laughing long enough to love a Taran Wood Beast? To be frank, I think
you've had it, Doctor.
BEAST / TEN
In that case, I'll just get on with dealing with the Wirrn and that
nuisance, Count Grendel. Looks like I'll have to hire some new
servants as well. Mine have run away.
I wonder why...
I've got it. I'll get some invisible servants - they won't worry
about what I look like.
That doesn't follow - you should get blind servants.
Blind servants? Don't be daft. In a place like Castle Gracht? Oh,
yeah, *that'd* be useful.
[BEAST interviews two SPIRIDONS]
How are you on cooking and washing up?
I believe we could manage, sir.
I need some invisible servants who don't mind my looks, but you two
seem almost visible with those purple hairy cloaks.
It's chilly in this big castle.
You did not specify that you wished for *naked* invisible servants.
Fine, fine - keep your cloaks on. Just wondered, that's all. Now,
I'm off to get rid of Grendel, throw some pesticide over the Wirrn and
start growing roses. And wait for some girl who can bear to look at
me like this without laughing herself to death.
In a not too distant land, lived a merchant with his three daughters,
Hope, Grace and Beauty. The youngest was called Beauty because she
was beautiful both inside and out. Izzy, must I read this sentimental
I think if someone experimented by cutting her open, we'd find that
she was pretty much the same as anyone else.
That's your last warning. And you know what it means.
All right, all right. Don't blame me if the children get fed up.
EIGHTH DOCTOR / MERCHANT [wearing his usual outfit and sitting at a
wooden desk, writing on paper with an extravagant quill and getting
I see shares in wool are up this week. That's good!
His first wife had died many years ago.
ROMANA II [walks on, drinks the ink and collapses gracefully]
I seem to be rather popular as a deceased wife lately. Why is that?
MERCHANT / EIGHT
She's dead! Noooooo!!!! But, wait, if I fiddle with this dial on the
TARDIS and -.
Absolutely not. Doctor, what *are* you thinking?
All right. Do I get to marry again?
Why not? You have three young brats to bring up and you're off
selling sheep hides every day but Sunday. What else would you do?
[EIGHT / MERCHANT marries GRACE]
By the way, light of my life, did I tell you I had three lovely
daughters I wanted you to bring up for me?
STEPMOTHER / GRACE [sighing]
I knew there was gonna be a catch. No, funny, you never mentioned
Unfortunately, not long after, the merchant heard news that all six of
his ships were sunk and all his wealth lost.
That's... not so good. Well, everyone, we shall have to move to the
country and make the best of things.
I should have known this would be a bad idea. Damn!
However, one day, the merchant received word that one of his ships and
survived and was even now returning to the town. He set off to meet
it and his daughters believed that their fortunes were restored and
asked for gifts of things that they had once had.
HOPE / ROSE TYLER
I'm not Beauty?
Nope. Get over it.
All right, I'd like necklaces of rubies, diamonds, emeralds and
That sounds a bit garish to me, but I'll do what I can.
GRACE / PERI [pulling out a long list]
Well, I'd like -.
Just *one* thing.
PERI [rolling the list back up again]
Shucks. Oh well, some silk dresses will do me fine, Pop.
Not if you ever call me that again!
GRACE / PERI [making a face]
I would love some silk dresses in the latest fashion, Papa dearest!
And what about my little Beauty?
BEAUTY / MARTHA
Hang about, I'm supposed to be the daughter of you and Romana?
Martha, this is storytime. The Book doesn't worry about these things
unless it feels like it.
Okay. I don't want anything at all, Father. Just bring yourself back
[PERI / GRACE and ROSE / HOPE mime gagging actions behind her back.]
No, no no! That would hardly be fair, Beauty. I must bring you
Okay, bring me back a rose, then.
MERCHANT [hugging his wife and daughters in turn, sets off, waving]
Bye! [He wanders off, muttering to himself] This is very confusing:
Grace is the Stepmother, Peri is Grace and Beauty wants a Rose... Must
[HOPE and GRACE gang up on BEAUTY]
HOPE / ROSE [hands on hips]
"All I want is one rose?"
GRACE / PERI
You ask for something you can pawn or sell on Ebay and then we can
have that TV, digital camera, DVD player, ipod and all the rest of the
things we wanted.
And if this turns out to be some pun where I get given to you -.
But I don't want any of that stuff.
The merchant travelled through the kingdom of the Beast on his
return. He was downhearted, for although his ship had come in, his
men had believed him dead and divided his wealth up between them. So,
he had no gifts for his daughters, not even a rose for his dear
Beauty. Since she had asked for roses in winter, this wasn't
surprising. However, a storm blew up as he approached the Beast's
castle, half dead of hunger, cold and fatigue.
MERCHANT [as buckets of water are thrown at him from off-stage]
Oh dear. I'd better find shelter - in here! That's better. Now what
was it I had to remember - Peri is playing Grace and Rose wants a
beautiful Stepmother? No, that's not right...
The gates opened for him and though he never saw anyone, food was laid
before him and a bedchamber made up for him.
Well, that's not strictly true. I can see those purple cloaks as
clearly as anything.
We are sorry if this is inconvenient, but we find it too cold in this
castle to walk about naked.
Of course. Sorry.
In the morning, the Merchant left, again being served without seeing
any living creature. On the way out, he found himself in the garden
and there was -.
A rose bush! [Picks a rose] I'm sure my kind host would not mind -
he's given me everything else I wanted.
BEAST [appearing behind him with his arms folded]
But not that, you thief. Put that rose back!
MERCHANT [frozen in disbelief]
I've had it with these horticultural criminals. Put the rose down and
face your doom!
MERCHANT [laughing hysterically]
But you're - you're a Taran Wood Beast! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
BEAST / TEN
Really? I'd never have noticed if you hadn't said. Now, Mr Whatever
your name is, you're done for now. Have I not given you everything
you wanted since you entered my castle? And you repay me by stealing
a rose! I shall imprison you here forever -.
No, wait! You don't understand. I am on the way home and I promised
my youngest and - incidentally, most beautiful - daughter a rose. It
was all my poor child asked for - you must let me return and give it
to her. I have found one no where else and I thought you would not
mind, you who have been so generous to a poor, lonely traveller.
Hmm. Okay, here's the deal. You get to go free, and give the rose to
your daughter, but unless she willingly agrees to come back here
instead of you, to live with me in my castle, you will have to return
and pay the price yourself. But to be honest, that's not going to
help me much.
MERCHANT / EIGHT [crossing his fingers behind his back]
Oh, I swear, Sir Beast!
The Merchant returned home and told his daughter how he came by her
BEAUTY / MARTHA
Then I must go to this Beast's castle. I won't let him have you,
But I have a plan - neither of us goes! What can this beast do?
STEPMOTHER / GRACE / HOPE
Yeah, good thinking. He's miles away.
But, Father - you made a promise! And it *is* all my fault for asking
for a rose. I must go to his castle as he asked.
BEAST [looking out a window]
Here she comes. Trouble is, I still can't face her like this. She's
never going to take kindly to a wretched Taran Wood Beast.
Aw. Are you feeling depressed, Doctor? Postponing the moment when
she dies laughing?
Oh, shut up.
Beauty entered with her father, both very nervous, when the Beast
appeared before them and -.
I said *the Beast appeared before them*!
Oh, all right. [Walks in] I am the terrible Beast! Your father stole
that rose from me and now you have come to live with me in my castle
to spare him from his fate?
BEAUTY [trying not to laugh]
Why are you wearing that unconvincing costume?
Roar. Do you dare to mock me?
No, no, I'm not - that can't really be you, can it?
BEAST / TEN
Oh, yes. This is me, your genuine Taran Wood Beast.
BEAUTY / MARTHA
You're kidding me.
Well, you may stay and dine this evening and this morning, when you
hear the bell. After that, you and Beauty may pack up two boxes of
any of my things you care to help yourselves to and you'll be off,
back to your family, your fortunes restored.
That sounds fair enough. But what about poor Beauty?
I'll take good care of her. Look, Martha can you *stop* laughing,
MARTHA / BEAUTY
They should have got you a proper costume.
BEAST / TEN
I'll have you know this is the real skin of a genuine Taran Wood
Beast. Count Grendel was always shooting the things. Typical of a
MARTHA / BEAUTY
No real animal ever looked like that!
Perhaps we could step back into character and the pathetic merchant
can pack his bags full of silks and jewels and gold and leave Beauty
to the Beast?
Every day, Beauty had the castle to herself, her every wants attended
to by invisible servants -.
They're not all that invisible.
Why does everyone think invisible people should walk around naked?
At the end of every day, the Beast asked Beauty to marry him and every
day, Beauty, even though she grew quite fond of him, always said no.
You don't fancy marrying me tonight, do you, Beauty?
You're a very nice Taran Wood Beast, but I don't think it would work
There is one thing, though.
BEAUTY / MARTHA
Where's your singing candlesticks and teapots?
Martha, that's not funny.
One day, the Beast found Beauty crying.
BEAUTY [drying her eyes quickly]
Oh, nothing, Beast!
That's all right, then. Fancy a quick walk round the rose garden?
There are times when you're completely obtuse, Doctor!
BEAST / TEN
Ah. I see. Come on, then, Beauty. If there's something wrong, you'd
better tell me what it is. Don't I look after you and give you
everything you could ever need?
Yes, you're very kind to me, Beast.
BEAUTY / MARTHA
I miss my father and my sisters and my stepmother. Oh, if I could
only know that they were all well!
Ah. I see. I might have known. I'm not enough for you, is that it?
Look, I like you a lot, Beast, but I still care about my family. Even
if I must be adopted, however you look at it...
Oh, all right. I'll arrange something, but this is the start of a
long and slippery slope that doesn't bode well for me.
BEAUTY / MARTHA
What are you talking about? I only need to know that my father got
back safely and restored our fortunes.
Here, have this golden mirror. When you look into it, it will show
you your family.
Ooh - cool! How does that work? Look, there's Hope and Grace pulling
each other's hair.
So, do you feel like marrying me tonight, Beauty?
BEAUTY / MARTHA
Beast, you are my best friend in the whole world, but I don't want to
I didn't think you were that superficial.
I'm only trying not to spoil the story. If you really want me to say
No! Honestly, I can't trust you two alone for a minute, can I? As if
this story isn't saccharine enough as it is...
A few weeks later, the Beast found Beauty looking depressed again.
What's wrong this time?
I still miss my family. It's all very well to see them in the mirror,
but I would love to visit them and let them know that I am well. I
see my father in his study and though he has all his wealth back, he
worries about me here. If he only knew that you look after me so well
and are my very best friend instead of the [her voice becomes
unsteady] ferocious Beast that he thinks you are.
I knew it. You promise to stay with me forever and a few months
later, you want to leave.
No! I want to stay here with you, but if I could only leave for two
months see my family, then I could be happy here.
I suppose you're not up for a quick walk down the aisle tonight, then?
No. Sorry. I would if I could!
Oh, very well. You can go home, but you must take the mirror with
you. In that you can see me each evening and I shall know that you
have not forgotten me. If you stay too long, I shall die.
That's a bit melodramatic, isn't it?
Ah, loneliness is a terrible thing, Beauty.
So, Beauty was allowed to visit her family, taking two more boxes of
the Beast's gifts with her for them.
[Big group hug ensues until everyone eventually disentangles
HOPE / ROSE
So what's this Beast like - apart from wealthy and ugly?
GRACE / PERI
I don't know how you can bear it.
Well, that's rich from you two while you're wearing dresses that come
from his gold... He might look very odd, but he has the kindest heart.
I am quite happy there with him.
But you won't go hurrying back off to him just yet, will you, Beauty?
BEAUTY [hugging him]
Of course not, Father. I've only just got here. Oh, that reminds
me. I've got to look into the mirror and check he isn't too lonely
But as the weeks passed, even though Beauty declared she must return
to her dear Beast as she had promised, her family begged her with
tears in their eyes to stay a little longer. It could not matter to
the Beast in his castle, if she waited to return to him for good.
And, caught up in the affairs of her family, Beauty forgot to look in
I knew this wasn't going to work out well for me...
As I said, Beauty was in the middle of dealing with her family's
HOPE [storming in through the door, holding a flouncy dress]
Grace has ripped my best dress!
Couldn't we have called her Faith or something? I can't get this
GRACE / PERI
I did not! You did that yourself.
Give it here. I'll mend it - it'll look as good as new, Hope.
It's so good to have you back with us, Beauty.
I know. But I really must go back to the Beast. Now where is that
golden mirror of mine?
HOPE [far too innocently]
Well, I haven't seen it.
GRACE / PERI
All right, you two. Where is it? I must see that my poor Beast is
Beauty found the mirror buried under a sack of potatoes in the kitchen
and snatched it up.
[Back at the castle, the BEAST wonders outside in the rose garden,
I must go back! I must get back to my poor Beast before it is too
late! He's dying!
GRACE / PERI
Talk about a drama queen. Bet he's just pretending.
BEAUTY [hitting her with the mirror]
Get out of my way. I should never have broken my promise!
[BEAUTY races off stage, hitching up her skirts. HOPE tries to pull
her back, but too late.]
BEAUTY / MARTHA [arriving, out of breath in the rose garden]
Oh, Beast, please don't die! [Sobs while checking for pulse] I've
come back and I'll stay here with you forever - I will marry you!
[The BEAST stays lying on the ground]
BEAUTY [in desperation]
I love you!
[The BEAST hastily scrambles out of his Taran Wood Beast costume to
reveal the TENTH DOCTOR / PRINCE]
Oh! [Kisses him]
Mmph - mmm!
Sorry, were you trying to say something?
You got ahead of yourself, Martha. You're supposed to ask what
happened to your dear Beast!
I can't think what came over me. Who are you? What have you done
with my poor Taran Wood Beast?
Beauty, don't you recognise me? I *am* the -.
[BEAUTY kisses him again]
Martha, I think we may have to have words about this.
BEAUTY / MARTHA [innocently]
What? Isn't that how fairy tales are meant to end?
PRINCE [considering it]
Oh, well, I suppose that's true. [Kisses her back] Argh!
ROSE [standing over them with an empty jug of water]
Will you two stop it?
MARTHA [still looking demure]
What? This is a *fairy tale*, everyone! What else are we going to
In Storytime, running off with someone else, staying single or
applying for a divorce as soon as possible is a fairly common
Oh, come on, what's wrong with a happy ending?
Exactly! Although I still don't know why I was cast as the Spoilt
[HARRIET JONES reappears, this time dressed as a proper, sparkly
Well, you've learnt your lesson now, I hope.
Yep. Next time, I get rid of Grendel *first* and if I do still get
into trouble by way of changing history with a few hasty words and
giving the Master a chance to start taking over the cosmos, I'll know
I can rely on Martha to sort it out.
Oh, please. Like I don't have some *other* plan up my sleeve.
Being dead? That one's a really cunning one, I have to say.
Made you cry, though, didn't it, Doctor?
What? Never! Must have been ... smoke from all that gunfire.
FIVE [popping his head round the door]
I don't want to be a nuisance, but that Giant Robot is still stuck in
the barn. Tegan's holding it off as best as she can but Turlough's
done for and we could really do with a spot of help -.
TEN [catching MARTHA's hand]
Martha, quick - let's get out of here!
[They run away.]
Izzy was watching the Master. She waited a moment longer and then
coughed. Still nothing. "You'll have to say it, you know. It's not
over till you do."
The Master sighed and then gave in. The Doctor as a Taran Wood Beast
was something to be going on with. "So Beauty married her Prince
lived happily ever after."
"Very good. It would have been better if you could say it without
grinding your teeth."
He looked across at her and smiled his best smile. "So?"
"Yes, all right," said Izzy. "You can come back to the creche, but
only under my conditions. And I will know if you start misbehaving!"
He mimed the picture of innocence, far too over the top, making the
children giggle. "What, *me*?"
Little Ace was frowning. "I liked that one where she shot the wolf.
Bang bang bang! Don't like silly soppy stuff."
An argument immediately broke out in the creche between the majority
who agreed with Ace and wanted more violence and less kissing and
Harry and the few girls who liked happy endings, and Jamie, who liked
anything with funny beasties.
The Master winked at her.
Izzy reflected that maybe it was time to dumb down and stick the
children in front of a TV set...
TTR was created by Tyler Dion.
LWT by Imran Inayat & Storytime by B K Willis.
All characters used are copyright of the BBC, BBC Wales & whoever it
si owns the righst to the TV Movie again...
The rest is, as usual, entirely my fault.