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The Sharpest Witch - Prize-winning contemporary re-working of the classic fairytale Hansel & Gretel. Read more...

'The Sharpest Witch' by Karen Watson. Childrens film made for Kelloggs
'The Sharpest Witch' Childrens film ©Kelloggs
'The Sharpest Witch' Childrens film made by Karen Watson for Kelloggs.
'The Sharpest Witch' Childrens film by Karen Watson. Made for Kelloggs 1990
The Sharpest Witch info

A winning entry in the ‘Kellogg’s Magic Mirror' competition, and awarded a budget of £22,000, ‘The Sharpest Witch’ is a children's short animation film, written, directed and animated by Karen Watson and humorously voiced by the award-winning actress, Miranda Richardson (Queenie from Blackadder). 

Released in 1990, the film is an environmentally conscious re-working of Hansel and Gretel, combining traditional narrative fairytale, rhyme and 3D stop-motion animation, ​to tell the tale of a manic, technological consumer witch who starves the locals by poisoning the land with chemicals and pesticides.

Faced with starvation, Annie and Tom (our modern-day Hansel and Gretel) are forced to leave their grandmother’s cottage and go into the forest in search of food, only to be tempted in by the witch’s disguise as a friendly butterfly and her sugary, fast food candy palace.

In this version, traditional story elements are updated, with modern woks, microwaves and dishwashers replacing the familiar oven and other objects. We are introduced to a manic witch, created from a combination of sharp metals, clock heads, light bulbs, springs and plastics, with polished red fingernails who speaks in rhyme, runs on batteries and gets her recipes from TV chefs. The witch sharply contrasts with Annie, Tom and their grandmother, who are all made from natural, dried flowers. Needless to say, the witch meets a rather different end from in the original fairytale

Originally made on 16mm and produced by Rag Doll Productions (makers of Teletubbies and In the Night Garden) ‘The Sharpest Witch’ was broadcast on ITV and also released as part of a video compilation. Images and a story of ‘The Sharpest Witch’, based on the original script, were also published in the ‘Magic Mirror Book of Fairytales’.


'The Magic Mirror’ competition was initially launched by Kellogg’s to find new animators for children's stories. Thirteen filmmakers were chosen to create new versions of classic fairytales with a modern twist. 

Images from the original storyboard for 'The Sharpest Witch' created using collage and pen and ink. (Also see storyboard page).

'The Sharpest Witch' was made immediately after 'Daddy's Little Bit of Dresden China'.

To view the full 7.5 minute version, contact:

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