MY Brimm Trip TO GERMANY; Paul O'Grady's Been Fascinated by Grimm's Fairy Tales since He Was a Boy. to Find out More He Took a Trip through the Forests and Castles of Their Homeland

Daily Mail (London), December 17, 2016 | Go to article overview

MY Brimm Trip TO GERMANY; Paul O'Grady's Been Fascinated by Grimm's Fairy Tales since He Was a Boy. to Find out More He Took a Trip through the Forests and Castles of Their Homeland


When Paul O'Grady's father took him to see the pantomime Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at the Essoldo Cinema, in Birkenhead, there was far from a fairy-tale ending. Terrified by the evil queen, young Paul screamed the house down. 'My dad had to take me out of the auditorium,' he says.

Yet far from being put off fairy tales, he became a fan. 'They intrigued me and still do,' says Paul. 'The evil queen, the dwarves, the wicked witch - what was their inspiration? I've always wanted to know the stories behind them.'

Paul finds at least some of the answers when he presents a fascinating documentary, Paul O'Grady's Favourite Fairy Tales, examining stories by his literary heroes The Brothers Grimm, such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.

He travels along Germany's Fairy Tale Route, a 372-mile stretch between Frankfurt and Hamburg, to discover what might have inspired Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm when they were writing in the 19th century. The clues aren't hard to find as the route is bursting with magical-looking ancient buildings and dense, dark forests, the kind that often feature in the brothers' stories.

In the town of Trendelburg, a 130ft tower is believed to be the inspiration for the lofty prison where Rapunzel was kept captive by a wicked witch. Paul discovers the tower was doorless at the time the Grimms would have been writing their tales, just like it is in the story.

He visits Sababurg Castle, which was abandoned and surrounded by thorny rose bushes at the time the Grimms were putting pen to paper in the nearby city of Kassel. A tower at the castle is reckoned to be the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty, the beautiful young girl who went to sleep for 100 years after pricking her finger on a spindle.

The rather-less-sanitised details of the original tales can be quite shocking, so the documentary is definitely for grown-ups. But Paul does lighten the mood with some hilarious re-enactments. Reprising a role he's played many times in pantomime, he dons a wig to play the evil stepmother in Cinderella. …

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