The Empress's New Clothes (2007/8). Debbie Horsfield, writer. Hat Trick/BBC Northern Ireland Production for BBC One.
The third fairy tale in the BBC Fairy Tales anthology is The Empress's New Clothes. Debbie Horsfield (creator of Cutting It, Making Out) retells The Emperor's New Clothes, a story which dates back to the second century.
One of the earliest versions features a painter of invisible pictures rather than a weaver, who claimed only persons of noble birth could see his art. And in a medieval Arabic version of the tale, a king struts naked convinced he's wearing clothes only visible to men who are the flesh and blood sons of their fathers.
"It's the story of a naive young mother who arrives in the big city, is befriended by a celebrity and is immediately swept away by the apparent glamour and excitement of her lifestyle," explains Debbie.
The universal theme about the urge to consume and outshine makes The Emperor's New Clothes so enduringly popular and provides inspiration for Debbie Horsfield's vibrant update.
In The Empress's New Clothes, just as the emperor defines himself through his fine clothes, Debbie's heroine, soap star Michaela (Denise Van Outen) is slavish to fashion to an extraordinarily high degree and hell bent on outshining her co-star and arch-rival Shekeelia (Koel Purie) at the Silver Sphere Awards, the highlight in the soap opera calendar.
Such obsession with expensive clothes and belongings can only lead to downfall and as we all know from the original story – nudity.
In terms of her inspiration for the comedy-drama, Debbie explains: "I talked to people who'd been publicists on various soaps. I combed the glossy magazines, particularly those featuring WAGs and soap stars. I talked to friends in the fashion industry and the PR industry.
"I talked to everyone about whether they bought designer clothes and why. I knew a bit about the world of award ceremonies, having been to a few myself! I'd had personal experience of being a naive newcomer in a big city so didn't need to research that! Likewise, I knew what it felt like to be a new mother with small children, feeling distinctly out of things.
"This fairy tale struck me as particularly relevant for today's celebrity-and-designer-obsessed society. The more I read it, the more I realised how every aspect of the story has contemporary resonances."