In Sky Max's comic sequel to the classic fairy tale, the Cilla star plays the wicked Witch who has survived being shoved in the oven by the sweet-loving brother and sister and now wants revenge on the villagers. Can Hansel and Gretel save the day?
Mark Addy, Sophie Thompson, Daniel Rigby, and Jocelyn Jee Esien are also in the cast, while David Walliams, who has co-written the show, plays the bridge-guarding Troll from The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
We caught up with Sheridan Smith to find out more about Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After...
'Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After' is a magical take on the fairy tale. How does it move the story on?
"I was scared as a kid because it’s about abandonment in the woods and then the Witch tricks them with sweeties, it’s like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Child Catcher! But David’s stories have a lovely sentiment. So this is about how, if people are different, you accept them."
Tell us about the Witch...
"I love that David writes me as a baddie! I never get to play those parts. I always play the girl-next-door or the cardigan-wearing single mum! You think the Witch has died in the oven but she rolls out of it on fire. She has been avoided by everyone and now she’s a Grinch-esque outsider who comes back to spoil the party and plots to fatten up the villagers and eat them for revenge. But she’s a gorgeous character with heart."
What’s your favourite scene?
"Instead of a broomstick, I ride a sherbet fountain! We were out in the car park with a green screen. I had to be really high up and I’m scared of heights and it was windy but luckily I was harnessed! I got cocky going, ‘I don’t need hands!’ So I have done a bit of stunt acting as the Witch – although I'm hardly Tom Cruise! But it was good fun. It's bonkers, but brilliant."
You’ve undergone quite a transformation...
"Wait until you see my teeth, they’re disgusting! I've kept my Cilla teeth so I might as well keep my witch’s teeth too! The makeup takes hours. They put latex stuff on my skin that makes me wrinkle. I think it’ll terrify my son [Billy, 18 months]! It doesn't look anything like me – hopefully!"
Have you enjoyed working with David again after teaming up on Jack and the Beanstalk, Mr Stink and Ratburger?
"I’d do anything with David in a heartbeat, he’s like a big brother. Everything that's happened in my life, he's always been there like a rock, so I owe a lot to him. And he’s a genius, like the modern Roald Dahl. He knows parents will be watching it with the children so he's very good at putting in jokes for the adults too, so everyone gets something from it. But there’s always a lovely heartwarming theme. They are full of heart his stories, no matter how daft and extreme they are."
Are you looking forward to Christmas with Billy?
"Yes, it's all about being together. After my dad passed away I didn't really enjoy Christmas but now I have my little boy it's just exciting again so I can't wait. You enjoy Christmas when you've got a little one. It's infectious!"
When can I watch 'Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After'?
The one-off comedy airs on Sky Max and Now TV from Thursday, Dec. 23 at 8pm.
Get the What to Watch Newsletter
The latest updates, reviews and unmissable series to watch and more!
Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.
Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.
Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.
In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.