The Marlowe
Interview with Billionaire Boy author David Walliams

Interview with Billionaire Boy author David Walliams

Billionaire Boy will start its Canterbury run this month. Ahead of the show’s arrival, author David Walliams speaks about seeing his book come to life on stage and his favourite characters in the production.

What is it like seeing your books come to life?
It’s the most brilliant thing, seeing a book that you’ve written come to life either on television or on stage. You feel like a magician because what was in your head is somehow now all real, right in front of you, so it is a very exciting thing.

If I gave you one billion pounds to spend however you liked and you had to spend it today, what would you spend it on?
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!

Do you make your books difficult to stage on purpose, like having a helicopter in Billionaire Boy?
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 the Birmingham Stage Company are brilliant at bringing my books to life and in this production, they have actually created a helicopter!

Photo of a male cast member flying in a helicopter while the rest of the cast wave goodbye

Photo by Mark Douet

Apart from Joe Spud who is your favourite character in Billionaire Boy?
My favourite character in the story of Billionaire Boy 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 it 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.

If BUM FRESH was real as a toilet paper, would it be your favourite brand to use on the toilet?
The reason Joe is a billionaire is because his father, Len Spud, who was just a humble man who worked in a factory, came up with this brilliant idea of a creating a special toilet roll which is moist on one side and dry on the other. I think this is a fantastic invention and I cannot believe someone hasn’t come to me and given me a billion pounds for the idea because if it was produced, I think it would really catch on. But I liked it being something like this which they made their money from because actually when you sometimes meet people who have lots of money, you find it’s really bizarre things that they do. I met someone who was really rich and it was because their father provides toilet roles to lots of pubs in the north of England and I thought, I could do that, but I didn’t have the idea, did I!

Photo of the Billionaire Boy cast

Photo by Mark Douet

Tell us more about the producers of the show.
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, then came into the West End and got great reviews and a fabulous response from the public. So I was really excited that a third book of mine was in their hands. It’s a really fun show 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 it’s turned into a really fun theatre show and I loved seeing it on stage.

Billionaire Boy runs from Wednesday 22 to Sunday 26 June and tickets are available here.

Photo of two male cast members smiling and pointing at eachother

Photo by Mark Douet