It's always a delight to have a BBC radio adaptation of a Neil Gaiman story, especially for the holiday season. The Sleeper and the Spindle, Gaiman's deconstructionist and subversive take on the story of Snow White stars Game of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie as the Queen and Dame Penelope Wilton, Harriet Johns from Doctor Who, as the narrator and the Old Woman. Neil Gaiman himself shows up as The Home Secretary. Hurrah and Huzzah!
The Sleeper and the Spindle is a new tale drawing on traditional folk stories, interweaving Snow White and Sleeping Beauty in an enchanting drama that puts the women firmly centre stage.
In her mountain kingdom, a soldier-Queen prepares for her wedding day. Three dwarves, guardians from her childhood, race towards her. They were coming for the celebration, but they also bring news of a sleeping sickness sweeping the land. As a girl she survived her own long, magical sleep, so she throws on her armour, straps on her sword and rides into the heart of this new plague to try to find its source and save her people. The magical sleep is spreading from a castle deep in the forest. There, our heroine discovers a beautiful sleeping girl, and a very, very old woman, forever awake…. But when the Queen wakes the princess in the traditional way, she discovers that all is not as it seems. Ultimately, she comes to understand that she really can make her own choices, and follow the path to her own happy ending."
The Sleeper and the Spindle stars Wilton as The Narrator/The Old Woman, Christie as The Queen, Gaiman as The Home Secretary, Ralph Ineson as The First Dwarf, Stefan Adegbola as The Second Dwarf, Ian Dunnett Jr. as The Third Dwarf/The Prince/The Tinker/The Woodcutter, Cecilia Appiah as The Pot Girl/ The Young Girl/ The Mother, Emma Handy as The Maid/The Other Woman/ The Stepmother, Roger Ringrose as The Father/The Innkeeper/ The Bandit, and Milton Dighton as The Child. Written by Gaiman and adapted by Katie Hims, The Sleeper and the Spindle is directed and produced by Allegra McIlroy and recorded remotely by Sharon Hughes and John Benton. Sharon Hughes handles sound design, with the project serving as a BBC Audio North Production. The Sleeper and the Spindle is streaming on the BBC for the next 4 weeks