In 1987, Muppet creator Jim Henson brought to the small screen one of the most innovative series of its time, The Storyteller. Inspired by his daughter Lisa’s studies in folklore and mythology, Henson used the Emmy and BAFTA winning anthology series to tell stories based on European folklore adapted by Anthony Minghella, and featuring puppets created by Henson’s Creature Shop. The stories were narrated by the mysterious Storyteller, played by the late John Hurt, along with his companion, a talking dog, performed by Brian Henson. A follow up to the series, featuring stories based on Greek mythology would air on HBO featuring Michael Gambon as a different Storyteller, accompanied by the dog.
Now the series is being revived, courtesy of Fremantle Media, The Jim Henson Company, and Neil Gaiman, a master storyteller, himself. Gaiman is no stranger to folklore and mythology, many characters from fairytales and myths have been featured in his works, from the Sandman comic book series, to the Anansi Boys, to American Gods. Much like the original series, the new Storyteller will be creating a world combining various folk tales, while also being updated for the binging viewer of today.
In an interview with Deadline, Gaiman spoke of his starting point for this new series:
Part of what fascinates me about The Storyteller is the stuff that we don’t know. Who was the Storyteller, why was he telling these stories, was he a goblin, what kind of creature? What I’d love to do is an inside story that’s as long as the outside story. We’re going to find out a lot about who the storyteller is, we’re going to find out things we don’t even know that we don’t know. We’re going to begin in a Northern kingdom where stories are forbidden and where the act of telling a story is liable and can get you imprisoned or executed. If you put a storyteller into that situation, things would need to start getting interactive,
On having Gaiman involved in the new series, Lisa Henson, CEO of the Jim Henson Company was quoted in saying:
The Storyteller has always been a special project for me, having worked so closely with my dad on the original concept. Neil Gaiman is an expert in traditional folklore and mythology, in addition to himself being the modern ‘storyteller’ for our times. I feel like if Neil were an actor, he’d have to play (the Storyteller) because he embodies what the storyteller is, a skillful wordsmith who can entertain people with the power of the story itself, and not to mention he also memorizes it all in his head
While we no longer have Jim Henson or John Hurt, the original storytellers as it were, with us to take part in this revival, Neil Gaiman is hopeful that others who worked on the original series will take part. Lisa Henson also hopes to attract talented filmmakers who can do amazing work with puppetry.
No word yet on network or streaming service, but we are sure this will be a series that they’ll all be wanting to add to their line-up.
The Storyteller will be produced by Fremantle in association with The Jim Henson Company. Lisa Henson and Neil Gaiman will serve as executive producers with Blanca Lista as co-executive producer.
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