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24 September 2014
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Fairy Tales 
Rapunzel: (L-R) Lee Ingleby as Jimmy Stojkovic and Charity Wakefield as Billy Jane Brooke

Fairy Tales

Update – 5 December 2007: BBC One's anthology of Fairy Tales, originally scheduled to begin in Week 48 2007 with Rapunzel, will now be screened in the New Year.



Jimmy Stojkovic (Lee Ingleby) is a terrible tennis player. Ranked a humiliating 1004th in the world he has never won a tennis competition in his life. His father, Sava (Shaun Williamson), is desperate to see his son win a grand slam tennis final but the only way he can see this happening is if he disguises Jimmy as a woman!


Shaun Williamson explains: "From Sava's point of view he is a dedicated father and tennis coach who has been coaching his son since he was young but he's rubbish! He's desperate for his son to have some success in tennis and win some prize money, so he figures out that the only way to do this is for his son to pretend to be a woman."


After a narrow escape from baseball bat wielding thugs, Jimmy discovers his father owes money to gangster loan sharks, exactly the same sum as the competition prize money at the forthcoming British Tennis Open at English tennis club, Rampion. So Jimmy reluctantly dons his tennis dress.


Lee Ingleby says of the initial plan: "Jimmy is not entirely convinced of his father's idea to cross-dress but I loved it! How often to you get the challenge of playing an Eastern European, cross-dressing, tennis player. I found that it all added to the comedy mastering the walk and the mannerisms and was a bit of an insight into the female psyche, although I'm glad I don't have to shave my legs anymore."


Trying to make the tennis look convincing was an additional dimension to the roles, so tennis coaches were employed to work with Lee and Charity.


"It was really important that we looked like we were able to play tennis, credibly," adds Lee. "We have quite a few rallies to play at the end and a lot of the extras who were watching, were former tennis players. I hadn't played tennis before, but after a couple of weeks of intense coaching, even Pat Cash said I looked like a tennis player."


All seems to be going to plan until Jimmy – now called Martina – falls in love with the beautiful reigning champion, Billy Jane Brooke (Charity Wakefield). Known to the public as Rapunzel, because of her unusually long hair, Billy Jane still lives with her over-protective mother and coach (Geraldine James).


Training together at Billy Jane's fortified home does wonders for Jimmy/Martina's game and he/she finally starts winning, but as they grow closer he finds it harder to keep up the pretence, most notably when they share a bed at a girly sleepover with hilarious results.


"It was definitely my favourite fairy tale when I was growing up, says Charity, "so I was delighted to be part of the season. Billy Jean has been very closeted, by her over protective mother, which is a nod to the original fairy tale where she's locked up in the tower. When she meets Martina, because she's been so sheltered she really bonds and they fall for each other."


Jimmy must now decide whether to come clean to Billy Jane or stay quiet and win the prize money for his father...


The comedy drama also stars Oliver Chris as Vuk, Jimmy's tennis nemesis and smarmy love rival; Tony Way as Jimmy's brother Boris; Alex Jennings as ex-tennis player turned pundit Roger Bateman; Emily Joyce as Roger's competitive colleague; and tennis legend Pat Cash also makes an appearance as a tennis commentator.


The other fairy tales in the anthology are Cinderella, The Empress's New Clothes and Billy Goat.



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