Published: 06:00, 28 January 2020
BGT judge, actor and children's author David Walliams has another hit on his hands on the stage.
As his book, Billionaire Boy, comes to the Kent stage this week, he tells us what he'd do with a billion pounds... and his love for dinner ladies.
As the bestselling children’s author David Walliams and the award-winning Birmingham Stage Company team up again for a third time with the new production of Billionaire Boy, he can surely sit back and relax.
His books have sold more than 32 million copies worldwide and in 2018 he was the UK's biggest-selling author for two years' running. That's on top of his BGT presenting, acting and involvement with the Tiger Who Came to Tea adaptation at Christmas.
So if he had a billion pounds, and could spend it however he chose, in one day, what would it go on?
David says: "There’s one thing that Joe Spud, who is the billionaire boy, has in the book which is a water slide going down from his bedroom to a swimming pool. He just gets out of bed and goes straight down a water slide. That is something I don’t have and it really pains me. So if I had a billion pounds to spend today I’d get that water slide because water slides are so much fun. I love them!"
Of this latest show, he says: "The Birmingham Stage Company have already done two incredible adaptations of my books,
Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie, both of which went round the country quite a few times, came into London, got great reviews, audiences loved the shows and came back and back and back and so I’m really excited that a third book of mine is in their hands. I think this could the most fun show of all because in a way this is the most comic book. It’s a story with an emphasis on jokes and silly situations and obviously the whole thing is quite surreal with someone having so much money. So I think it’s going to be a really fun theatre show."
But, he admits, he never writes them with the stage in mind. "The thing is that when I write the books I’m not thinking much beyond them being books. And, of course, in children’s books you want to have lots of really exciting things happening like helicopters and fast cars and I know that does create problems for people staging it but then the
brilliant thing about theatre is that with imagination, anything can be done."
So, apart from the lead character Joe, which is his other favourite character in Billionaire Boy?
"My favourite character is Mrs Trafe, the dinner lady and I actually played her in the TV adaption. Basically in the story she asks Joe for money and she says she needs for a hip operation but spends it on plastic surgery.
"So it was a lot of fun creating her horrible school dinners and also a lot of fun giving her the surgery in the book and seeing what she does
with the money. It highlights the fact that Joe’s in a pretty difficult predicament because everyone is asking him for money and they all have good reasons why they need it. But at the same time money is quite a corrupting thing and it makes people do bad things and lie to him. So Mrs Trafe is really a side character but she does something pretty important in the story."
Billionaire Boy tells the story of Joe Spud, who at 12 is the richest boy in the country. He has his own sports car, two crocodiles as pets and £100,000 a week pocket money. But what Joe doesn't have is a friend.
So he decides to leave his posh school and start at the local comp. But things don't go as planned for Joe and life becomes a rollercoaster as he tries find what money can't buy.
It has been adapted and directed by Neal Foster, designed by Jackie Trousdale, lighting by Jason Taylor, sound by Nick Sagar and music by Jak Poore.
The show, which is suitable for over fives, is at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley Wednesday, January 29 until Sunday, February 2 and at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, from Thursday, June 18 until Sunday, June 21.
More by this authorAngela Cole