come bearing a traditional (sort of) Storytime! in which the Simm
Master tells the children the Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel. With
unexpected and unwanted help from some of the children...

This Time Round
Look Who's Talking
Storytime! Hansel and Gretel


TTR/LWT: Storytime! Hansel and Gretel


“And what is it this time?” asked Izzy, hands on hips. “No more
novels, thank you. I’d advise you to steer clear of Sherlock Holmes
while you’re at it, too.”

The Simm Master gave her his best smile. It was not reassuring. “No,
only one of those harmless, short traditional tales the children enjoy
so much. About two sweet and innocent children who go to visit a
poor, lonesome old lady and eat sweeties.”

“Something tells me this charming, traditional tale is called ‘Hansel
and Gretel’?

He half keeled over with affected shock. “Izzy! How did you guess?”

“Oh, go on, get on with it,” she said. “Just keep it short and don’t
cast anyone from Torchwood, okay?”

He wrinkled up his nose. “Who’d *want* them?”


Are we sitting comfortably, children? Good, because if we’re not, we
can always cut off any awkward limbs-.


Distantly, while dealing with little Jamie, who was busy bringing back
something he shouldn’t have eaten, Izzy yelled, “I heard that.” Then
she shook her head at Jamie. “You’ve got to learn not to put
*everything* you come across in your mouth, my bonnie laddie.”


Right, so if we’re sitting comfortably, then once upon a time there
was a humble woodcutter or some such, blah blah blah who had a wife
and two children.

{Enter FOUR as a HUMBLE WOODCUTTER, sitting in a cottage set, along
with his WIFE, ROMANA II]

I say, that’s a fine axe I’ve got.

I’m going to die again, aren’t I?

[Both look at their children without much enthusiasm. HANSEL and
GRETEL are, with some inevitability, ADRIC and NYSSA].

I thought we were going to have a chat about this before we did
something drastic like having children. Now look what we’ve ended up

Two alien geniuses. I suppose it was only to be expected.

However, this happy life did not long continue, as the Woodcutter’s
wife died -.

I knew it. Oh, well. [dies gracefully, before raising her head
again] I must say, I am getting rather good at this.

I told her no good would come of having children.

So the humble woodcutter married again, a charming woman -.

[FOUR abruptly finds himself at the altar with ROMANA I. Both look
startled and annoyed].

Not again. This makes no sense at all, you realise. If we look at
this logically and chronologically, I came first and therefore one
would expect me to the one who’s allowed to die.

The harvests were bad and there wasn’t much food around for the
family. There was a dearth.

[A fearsome, tall figure in black strides through the forest towards
the cottage, breathing heavily through his mask].

Oh, *please*, this isn’t some pathetic fan fic. I said, there was a
*dearth*, not a Darth. Right, so there was a – shortage of food so
the stepmother decided that they would have to take the little brats
out into the forest and lose them before they all starved to death.
The father was -.

Splendid! When do we start?

NARRATOR [flatly]
The father was *heartbroken* at the idea, but she talked him round, or
possibly used some of those other methods of persuasion women seem to
think will do the trick. Doesn’t do anything for me, personally, but
some people swear by it.

[glaring at the unseen narrator, before turning to the WOODCUTTER] To
be honest, we don’t have the money to keep them in calculators and
chemistry sets any longer. We’ll have to do it. It upsets me as much
as it upsets you.

Look, I’ve agreed. If they’re so clever, I’m sure they’ll cope.

However, clever young Gretel was listening at the door and told her
brother what their parents were up to.

NYSSA/ GRETEL [in sparse bedroom with only one bed. HANSEL/ADRIC is
sleeping on the floor in the corner]
Wake up, brother. Our parents are plotting to kill us.

I don’t believe it. *You’re* the one who plots to kill me.

Yes, but they’re plotting to kill *me* too. Now, think of something
or they will take us out into the forest and leave us there to die.

Is that all? You do much worse. I’m going back to sleep.

If it’s not *too* much to ask for, Hansel is *not* going back to
sleep. He is in fact, going to sneak downstairs and fill his pyjamas
with small white pebbles.

HANSEL [frowning]
Why would I do that?

NARRATOR [rolling his eyes]
And I thought you were supposed to be a genius.

I am. But I still don’t know why I want to pick up pebbles in the
middle of the night and then put them in my *pyjamas* or why I’m
supposed to be so worried about being left alone in a forest with

Oh? *Really*?

Well, I’m always getting stuck alone with you, but at least I’ll be
able to run somewhere. I don’t see what the problem is.

No wonder they want to get rid of you. Just do it, okay?

[Still grumbling, HANSEL climbs down the stairs. A heavy rock falls
off the top of the door behind him. GRETEL watches, the picture of

HANSEL [picking up dropped humbugs]
Why’s it always me that gets picked on? It’s not fair. These aren’t
even pebbles.

You’re lucky. You try always being third tree to the right.

Who said that?

NARRATOR [glaring]
I said *nothing* about talking trees. If I were you, young Ward, I’d
shut up about your life, unless you want me to casually happen to read
out, ooh, say, a small section on how the woodcutter got up and went
to work, cutting down any argumentative trees that happened to be
standing around. So…. Hansel went back upstairs to his sister and
they both went to sleep.

[GRETEL is waiting behind the door with a sword].

Look, I’ve got nothing against you skewering your brother, Gretel, but
if you hang on in there, you can prove you’re the brains of the outfit
and shove the old witch in the oven, and *then* you can skewer him.

[GRETEL climbs into bed. She still has the sword.]

Will somebody tell me what I’m supposed to do with a bag of humbugs?
Do I get to eat them?

In the morning, they went for a walk in the woods, but Hansel kept
stopping to look behind him. Each time he did, he dropped a humbug –
pebble, I mean.

Oh. I see!

Hansel, what are you doing?

Waving goodbye to K9. He’s… up there on the roof.

That’s just the sun on the chimney. Don’t be silly. You know K9
can’t even manage to get over the doorstep.

Then they made a fire, sat the children down beside them, gave the
last of the bread and then bu-.


Izzy marched back in. “What was that you were *thinking* about


And left them there, the poor, abandoned kiddies. Scout’s honour,
Izzy Whizzy.

Call me that again, Mr Saxon, and you’re never darkening this door
again. Oh, sugar, I’ve ended up in the story.

Well, get out, unless you want to be a passing oak tree.

I think not.


Anyway, they left them sleeping there and when they awoke the fire had
gone out, it was night and they were all alone.

HANSEL [repeatedly jumping as he attempts to sleep]
Ow! Stop it.

GRETEL / NYSSA [still holding the sword]
Stop drooling on my shoulder or I’ll stab you.

Don’t be upset, Gretel. I left a trail of humbugs behind us – we can
easily find our way home.

So the two of them followed the trail home and, no, Gretel, *didn’t*
attempt to slit his throat as they reached the doorstep.

HANSEL [hand to his neck]

GRETEL / NYSSA [in a sinister whisper]
You wait till later.

Oh, I *like* her.

[HANSEL sulks]


As you’d imagine, the parents were thrilled to have them back again –
no, really, they were, if you believe what’s written here. However,
soon after there came another dearth -.

[JAMIE appears, dirk in hand.]

I said *dearth*. As in famine, not having enough food. Not a dirk,
or anything else that sounds even remotely like it.

So you dinnae want me in this one, then? [looks alarmed] Did you say
there was no food?

No! And yes, no, there isn’t.

You need to make up your mind. I’ll go for a walk in the forest,
then. I could use a wee breath of fresh air.

Oh, s – b- - things I would never, ever say in front of these dear,
dear little children, Izzy.

I should hope not. Ohhh-. I’ve done it again. That wood looks a bit
sinister. I don’t want Victoria in tears again, you know.

You think so? I was aiming for something a bit more reassuring than
the traditional sinister, dark wood. I’ve been persuading the others
to form the occasional sunlit glade, just for variety.

Yes, I think you *aren’t* your everyday tree. But the rest of the
forest isn’t with you on it.

It’s hard world.

NARRATOR [narrowing his eyes]
Woodcutter. Axes.

Don’t you dare!

I’d like to see you vegetarian, tree-hugging brigade survive a few
centuries ago when you’d have starved to death if you hadn’t gone
round wringing the necks of chickens and slaughtering pigs, poaching
deer and eating rats or whatever it was you pathetic humans did. And
you’d have died of cold if you wouldn’t cut trees down.

That is complete nonsense! Did they have *factories* slaughtering
them, hens kept in batteries, or creatures being fattened up and
genetically altered so they can’t even move properly? Oh, and
transported about the place in -.

All right, all right -. I am now a fully paid-up treehugger.
Anything as long as you’ll shut up.

And as for the trees, did one single woodcutter manage to decimate a
forest in a few minutes? I think not. Besides, I hope we’re a bit
more civilised these days.

Nope, doesn’t sound like it, does it? And, Izzy, Izzy, you’ve made
poor, ickle wickle Victoria cry!

Oh. Um, sorry, Victoria.

Tell her it’s not true about the chickens and the baby lambs and the

Um. Oh. Um. If we all work together, we’ll make it not be true?
Certainly, I only ever have organic produce delivered here and all
local, of course-.

NARRATOR [sounding alarmed]
Local to *Nameless*? You’re crazier than me, Izzy. Now, Izzy, since
she so foolishly allowed herself to be drawn into the story, went off
to tie herself to a tree and protest as the humble woodcutter tried to
go about his day job.

IZZY [tying herself to a tree despite her best intentions]


So, I think you’re all getting the idea by now. They had a very
unsneaky conversation about how they couldn’t afford to feed their
little darlings, and would yet again try to abandon them in the
forest. You know, some people are so lacking in originality – not
like ME!

Do we finally get rid of the brats this time?

The Father was – yet again - *heartbroken* over this, but eventually
was forced to agree.

Excuse me, but I object.

Not again.

I realise that one has to play many varied parts in these efforts, but
I have so far been portrayed as a witch and an evil stepmother, and I
am concerned about the aspersion the Book is casting on my character.
If you don’t mind, rather than sacrifice the children, I shall take
myself off to the forest, allowing the remaining family members to
stretch the food further. I’m sure I will find some means of
surviving. I am quite capable, you know.

What? No! Darling, we’re talking about Adric and Nyssa.

Right. That’s it. Run away, Romana. Go off into the forest. I’ve
had enough. Why do I have to do everything myself?

Now, dearest, take those children off into the forest -. [Pauses]
What?! [pauses again to reflect on his last words] Oh well, let’s
have some fun! So, darling Woodcutter, take those pesky brats out
into the Forest, and this time you can loose the pair of them for

Splendid. I like your dress.

You don’t think the wig is a bit much?

Well, I wasn’t going to say it myself, as I’d rather finish this
story. I used to only do corpses, you know, and now I have lines.
It's a bit of a bore.

Corpses or corpsing?


“Where did Izzy and Mr Saxon go?” asked Peri, taking her thumb out of
her mouth. “Hey, I’ll tell the stowy, just like a pwoper gwown up!”


“And then,” said Peri, running her finger along the page, a heavy
frown on her face, “they took the childwen to Disneyland, where they
ate lots and lots of candy and met weal fairies and all their
favouwite Disney people-.”


I think I may have made one of those irritating mistakes again. And I
don’t mean this ridiculous, orange wig.

IZZY [still tied to a tree. In the middle of a painted backdrop of
rides, and pink castles]
You think?

Look, this isn’t funny. What fairy tale is this, when it’s at home?
Mickey Mouse!!! Whoever’s responsible I’m going to shoot them.

Clearly it’s the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. And who’s Donald?


Yeah, about that…

Don’t ask, matey-boy, because if you knew how unhappy I was at being a
big dumb bird with a slightly similar name to mine, you really
wouldn’t want to risk it.

Did you drop the breadcrumbs?

Yes, but that giant duck and mouse just ate it. Still, this looks
more interesting than home.

I want to know who’s behind this, so I can get him later!

Baby Peri.

Oh. Right. Maybe not, then.

Won’t stop *me*.


Baby Six pulled Peri out of the chair. “That’s not a story! Tacky
cartoons, and anyway, you weren’t reading that. You can’t read!”

“Neivver can you.” She put her thumb back in her mouth.

Six snatched the book.


Look, come on, Mr Saxon, untie me now!

JAMIE [reappearing with the biggest pink mass of candyfloss ever seen]
Somebody said there was no food, but I’ve found loads – and look, yon
lassie at the stand gave me this. Think she liked me.

I take that back. Just kill me now. Give me a moment’s respite!
What do you think baby Six is going to do with the book in his hands?


Six slapped back the other toddlers trying to get the book. “It’s my
turn. You can have yours later. Now, is everybody sitting
comfortably? Then we’ll begin…”


Hansel and Gretel were of course not anywhere as comm-commer – tacky
as Disneyland, and they were back in the deep, dark forest where they

With sunlit glades, and the occasional, gentle falling leaf.

Yes, that. There was a nice tree, that was really a prince who had
been turned into a tree by a wicked witch, who lived in a gingerbread
cottage, which is the proper story, Peri, and doesn’t have any
cartoons or sweeties in it.



Baby Captain Jack looked happily at the pin he’d used on baby Six, and
took hold of the big book, with a wide smile.


Okay, everyone had fun at Disneyland and it was great, and then they
had a big fight -.

[DONALD and MICKEY look at each other, and do their best while JAMIE
happily punches the MASTER, FOUR and ROMANA have a loud row, GRETEL
hits HANSEL repeatedly and IZZY fends off the TREE.]

And then they all kissed and made up.

[EVERYONE looks at EVERYONE and gets it over with as soon as

No, PROPERLY, everyone kissed each other *properly*. Lots and lots.
For ages and ages and ages.


***The cast would like it noted that they found this section too
disturbing to recall and its account has been excised from all
chronicles of Nameless, although Izzy wants it to be known that if
certain people ever, ever try anything like that again, when she isn’t
tied to a tree, there will be trouble, and probably murder. Also it
must be recorded that there are some advantages to wearing a Disney
costume, and that certain people, who were, narrative-wise, committing
incest at the time, seemed unnecessarily enthusiastic about the whole


Jack’s precocity in some things were legend, even in the nursery, but
his mastery of the English language was not what it would be one day.

He took a deep breath, and proposed the most educational scene yet:
“And then, and *then* they all had a great big org-ogr-ogry!”

He never understood why the Book decided to include a bloodsucking
stone at this point, but it certainly put an end to the disturbing


IZZY [watching the Ogri approach]
Hahaha. Look at that! Is that supposed to be scary or something?

Actually, it’ll advance on you tirelessly, and drain your blood away,
but I’m sure you’ll cope. I really should be off chopping trees and
eating jelly babies, or both my wives will nag. Possibly all three of
them. I’m not entirely sure I’m following this any more.

Untie me, then, you -! Oh. He’s gone.

Izzy, how do we get out again?

It might help if you untied me.

Not after what you said you’d do to me – you don’t catch me out like
that! Ha.


Six was not pleased after the incident with the pin and took advantage
of Jack’s confusion to snatch the book, whack him over the head with
it and seize control once more.

“I’m going to tell the proper story,” he said. “And you are all going
to behave, especially Peri.”

Peri sulked, and sucked her thumb.


So, the nasty Ogri vanished, and then, back in the deep, dark forest

How many times do I have to explain about that?

Oh, shut up. Everybody knows trees can’t talk. You’re making the
story silly. So, back in the deep, dark forest, Hansel and Gretel
found a house made all of gingerbread, candy canes and other sundry
biscuits and cakes.


Adric put his hand up.

Six stopped and sighed. “I’m telling a story! What is it? Don’t you
know where the bathroom is by now?”

“What’s a sundry biscuit?”

Sarah Jane bobbed up and down. “It’s those ones that come in foil.”

“No, it isn’t,” said Harry, waking up for once. “I’ve had them.
They’re counting biscuits.”

Six glared at them, and then turned to Mel, who also had her hand up.
“I’m not talking about biscuits. Anything else?”

“Yeth,” lisped Mel. “Are you thure this ithn’t thtill Dithneyland?”

He frowned. “What?”

“Oh, all right,” she said, abandoning the attempt at cute. “It sounds
like Disneyland to me. Where else would you find a house made all of

Six paused and thought about it. “Well, I suppose it might be
somewhere in a deep, dark corner of Disneyland. Shall we continue?”

“Hah,” exploded little Four.

“What now?”

He waggled his fingers against his nose and stuck his tongue. “You
sound like a boring grown up.”

“I have a lot of sense for my age,” agreed Six. “And I can read,
Peri, so there. I learnt to read when I was nearly two, and after
that I moved onto maths and then I worked out the theory of relatives,
which is very difficult when you come from Gallifrey -.”

Peri gave a sob. “I want my story.”

“Now, look what you’ve done!” said Six to Four. “Izzy will be very
cross when she comes back.”


So, somewhere in the deepest, darkest corner of the theme park, where
they had a dearth or whatever that funny word was, and no cartoon
people, but a nice, friendly tree, Hansel and Gretel found a house
made of sweeties with an old lady inside.

[HANSEL and GRETEL march up to the house, HANSEL greedily eating
anything edible in sight.]

You pig, Adric! I mean, Hansel. You can’t possibly eat a whole

Can’t I?

JAMIE [wandering over]
Hey, look, more food. That stuff the Master said was just a complete
lie. Do you think whoever lives here would have sandwiches?

Jamie, you’re not supposed to be in this.

I’ll just get a sandwich and go. You won’t notice me.

[The door opens and the WITCH appears. It is EVELYN. She is carrying
a chocolate cake.]

Sandwiches? Of course. And have a piece of my chocolate cake while I
have a quick word with your naughty young narrator about a gross
example of miscasting.


Six shut the book hastily, and hid under the chair, bursting into


Oh. Does anybody know what we do now?

I believe in the traditional story, you invite us in and feed us up,
secretly planning to keep me as a servant and to eat my brother
Hansel. However, I am intelligent enough to decipher your true
intentions, and set about thwarting you, using a bone and your own
oven. If you want to hurry things along, I suppose I could push you
inside it now, if you wanted.

Well, yes, I *am* familiar with the story. I’m only wondering what
one does when there’s no narrator. It sounds like something terribly
modern and meandering – several characters in search of a plot, or

Well, in the meantime, no harm in having a sandwich and a slice of yon
chocolate cake, is there?

I don’t see why not.

Well, come in, my dears and we’ll have a tea party while we wait for
everyone to sort themselves out.


Peri picked up the book again, with a smile on her face. She shuffled
herself into place on the big chair, and beamed so engagingly round
the room that even little Two decided not to continue in his cunning
plan to upend the chair and steal the Book. She opened the heavy
volume on her lap, with difficulty, smoothing the large pages down,
and frowning down at the meaningless letters.


So, they all had a nice tea party and then it turned out that the
witch was weally a beautiful pwincess under a spell and then she
kissed the twee that was weally a pwince under a spell and turned back
into a pwincess and they all lived happily ever after with Mickey
Mouse and Donald Duck in a big pink, sparkly castle. And the nasty
man untied Izzy, so she can come back and give us our juice and


Well, there you are. That answers that one. You young people polish
off the chocolate cake, while I go and find this handsome young tree
to kiss. And, there, I must say, is yet another sentence I never
thought I’d have reason to use.

Before you go, are there any more sandwiches?

Oh, plenty. I’m sure Gretel, Hansel or Donald Duck will sort you out
with something.


[Elsewhere in the forest, IZZY slaps the SIMM MASTER as he reluctantly
unties her, and then sinks on to the forest floor, sobbing gently.]

Yeah. That one didn’t go according to plan. I’ll do better next
time, I promise.

Next time? NEXT TIME?!


EVELYN / WITCH [finding the TREE in a forest]
Well, young Mr Tree, I gather we have a romantic moment here, so if
you’ll just bend down a little, I’ll -.

[There is a puff of pink smoke and EVELYN vanishes, as does the TREE,
to be replaced by a fully human LUKE WARD and PERI]

Hey. How did that happen?

I don’t know, but I… I feel must take you home to my castle in the
skies. I have – I think I have a horse with wings.

PERI [looking up]
It’s pink. And nothing can have actual turrets like that. It looks
like the sort of dumb thing I’d have drawn when I was about five or
something. Still, I’ve married worse than you, so let’s get on with
it. You can kiss me again if you like, as long as you’ve given up on
the maggot-eating thing.

LUKE / PRINCE [frowning]
How would you get a horse with wings, miss? What would have to mate
it with and how would that -?”

Please. Magic. Let’s leave it at that. Okay?

I also have a developed a strong interest in plants, particularly
trees. I’m thinking of outlawing woodcutters.

Fine by me. Hey, I’m marrying someone who’s not evil, alien,
deformed, twice my age and who actually shares an interest with me.
Just goes to prove it’s all made up.


[There is one final wedding scene, in the castle, with rejoicing,
balloons, candyfloss, the full cast, confetti, streamers, floating
hearts, glitter in the air and an incredible pink dress for the
bride. There are flowers everywhere, mostly pink.]


Peri put down the book. “There. Wasn’t that a nice stowy, evwyone?”


Izzy slammed the door in the Simm Master’s face.

“Hey, wait, you know you can’t live without me.”

She reopened the door. “You tied me to a tree, left the children
without supervision, and – well – I’m not even going to *think* about
the other things you did or I shall throw up! Get out, and don’t come
back for at least a fortnight.”

“Well,” he said, running off, “that was fun. What else can I do


Disclaimer: None of this belongs to me. None of it, except for the
actual order of words was even my idea. It must be fairly obvious to
anyone that no profit is being made.