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Little Britain’s David Walliams on what he'd do with a squillion dollars

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Written by
Rebecca Russo
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You'd think David Walliams would have no more worlds to conquer. After making his start on Rock Profile alongside his comedy partner Matt Lucas, Walliams is best known for sketch radio-show-turned-television-show Little Britain.

Since then, Walliams has been a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, written and starred in numerous BBC shows and managed to swim both the English Channel and the length of London’s River Thames for charity. 

In addition to all that, Walliams is a highly regarded children’s book author with 12 novels published. Some even call him a modern-day Roald Dahl. But does the cheeky adult humour he’s known for lend itself to kids' entertainment?

“Children love the rude humour of Little Britain, too. Maybe even more than the grown-ups,” says Walliams.

After landing a contract with HarperCollins, Walliams published his first book, The Boy in the Dress, in 2008, with illustrations by Quentin Blake. “I just had an idea for a story, what would happen if a boy went to school dressed as a girl, and wrote it. That was ten years ago.”

His 2009 follow-up was Mr Stink, which has since been adapted as a stage musical and a made-for-TV film shown on the BBC. Walliams says it’s always nice to see his words transform into a new medium. “I like it when things change,” he told us. “I am naturally collaborative, so I am fine with things being different.”

His third book, Billionaire Boy, has been adapted for the stage by Maryam Master and will be heading to the Melbourne stage this April.

“I read the script and loved it,” says Walliams about the adaptation. But it must be interesting seeing someone else take his words and create something different with it, right? “I actually like it when things change,” he says. “The book will always be there, so I don’t worry about someone putting their own spin on things.”

Billionaire Boy follows 12-year-old Joe, a kid with everything a kid could want, including a golden underwater Ferrari and his very own cinema. But that doesn’t mean that his life is so great. He has altercations with the school bully and has to make his peace with his dad’s new girlfriend (no mean feat), as well as facing the scariest thing of all for a kid: the world’s worst school canteen. 

The story touches on issues of depression, loneliness and the emotional impact of wealth. So, it begs the question: what would David Walliams do if he had eleventy squillion dollars like Joe? “I would buy a few paintings that are out of my price range, especially a Francis Bacon and a Rothko, and then give the rest to charity, as too much money is not good for you.”

Billionaire Boy plays at Arts Centre Melbourne from Saturday, April 6 until Sunday, April 14. The show is appropriate for kids six and up. Read about it here.

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