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In Jim Henson's The StoryTeller and The StoryTeller: Greek Myths, the Storyteller is a character who narrates the stories and brings each tale to life. He shares the company of a talking dog named Dog as he tells each story. The difference in actors, appearance, and time frame between the two series suggest that the two storytellers are not meant to be the same character, as does a reference in the book No Strings Attached to a "new storyteller," but with the same dog.
Jim Henson's The StoryTeller
In all nine episodes of Jim Henson's The StoryTeller, the Storyteller is portrayed by John Hurt. Heavy make-up was used to create the character, notably large ears and a prosthetic nose. The Storyteller was initially conceived by Jim Henson as an animatronic puppet character. However, Ron Mueck filmed a test with facial prosthetics, to suggest that an actor in make-up would be more effective.
The Storyteller is always comfortably seated by a fireside, since as he explains in the opening prologue, "the best seat by the fire" was always saved for the storyteller. Within the narrative frame, his only companion is Dog. However, the Storyteller twice became a participant in his own tales. In "Hans My Hedgehog," it is the Storyteller whose card divinations remind the King of the impending marriage of his daughter to the Grovelhog. He is imprisoned as a result, but pardoned on the wedding day. The Storyteller serves as a waiter but continues to narrate the story from within, providing exposition and commentary while washing dishes or lounging in the aftermath.
In "A Story Short," the Storyteller tells a tale focused entirely on himself, though even here, the line between fairytale and reality is sharply blurred. In his own story, the Storyteller claims to have met and married a wife, who subsequently left him for a beggar. Since within the story the same beggar turns our narrator into a flea and a hare, it's uncertain whether the Storyteller has, in fact, loved and lost a spouse.
Jim Henson's The StoryTeller: Greek Myths
In the 4-part mini-series The StoryTeller: Greek Myths, The Storyteller was portrayed by Michael Gambon. The actor played the role without prosthetics, creating a visual contrast to Hurt's Storyteller. The character also possesses more of a melancholic bent, as befits the tragedies he relates, in contrast to the whimsical humor of his predecessor.
In contrast to the vaguely 16th century European narrator of the previous series, this storyteller lives during Ancient Greece. Although aired as the fourth episode, "Theseus and the Minotaur" explains the character's back story. A native Athenian, the Storyteller and Dog travel to Crete. After robbing the dead, or as he puts it, merely exchanging their coins "for smaller valuables," the storyteller and Dog wind up on the run, until they tumble into the Labyrinth of Knossos, approximately 1,000 years after the reign of the Minotaur. Now trapped within the labyrinth, the pair wander, searching for a way out. During their travels, the Storyteller finds sculptures and artifacts which reminds him of stories; these finds include a bust of Daedalus, architect of the labyrinth, and the lyre of Orpheus. They eventually escape the Labyrinth when a ceiling collapses.