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David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy

The comedian, writer – and cross-channel swimmer – talks about the stage adaptation of his best-selling book, coming to Bristol in June

The acclaimed Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of David Walliams’ best-selling book Billionaire Boy – nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Family Show – is coming to the Bristol Hippodrome from Wed 8 Jun – Sat 11 Jun 2022. Hurrah! In case you haven’t got a young person to hand to fill you in, the hilarious yet touching story follows the journey of 12-year-old Joe Spud, the richest boy in the country with his own sports car, pet crocodiles and £100k a week pocket money – but no friends – as he tries to find what money can’t buy.

Here’s what the UK’s best selling children’s author (32 million copies and counting), comedian, talent show judge and cross channel swimmer had to say about the show.

This isn’t the first time the Birmingham Theatre Company have staged your work?

They’ve a already done incredible adaptations of Gangsta Granny and Awful Auntie, both of which went round the country quite a few times, then into the West End and got great reviews and a fabulous response from the public. So I was really excited that a third book was in their hands. This is the most comic book, with an emphasis on jokes and silly situations and obviously the whole thing is quite surreal with someone having so much money. It’s turned into a really fun theatre show and I loved seeing it on stage.

How does it feel to see your book making the leap from page to performance?

It’s the most brilliant thing, seeing a book that you’ve written come to life on stage. You feel like a magician because what was in your head is somehow now all real, right in front of you.

The main character’s father became rich by inventing a special loo roll which was dry on one side and moist on the other. How did you come up with the idea?

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.. If it was produced, I think it would really catch on!

If someone gave you a billion pounds, what would you buy?

Joe buys a water slide going down from his bedroom to a swimming pool, so he can get out of bed and go straight down the water slide. That’s something I don’t have and it really pains me. So if I had a billion pounds I’d get that water slide.

Your books can be quite difficult to stage, for example, there’s a helicopter in Billionaire Boy

When I write, I’m not thinking much beyond them being books and exciting things happening like helicopters and fast cars, and I know that can create staging problems. The brilliant thing about theatre is that with imagination, anything can be done – as the Birmingham Theatre Company’s brilliant production shows.

Apart from Joe Spud who is your favourite character?

Mrs Trafe the dinner lady. I actually played her in the TV adaption. In the story she asks Joe for money for a hip operation but spends it on plastic surgery. It fun creating her horrible school dinners, giving her the surgery and seeing what she does with the money. It highlights the predicament that everyone is asking him for money, and that while they all have good reasons why they need it, it can make people do bad things.

Billionaire Boy is on at the Bristol Hippodrome from Wed 8 Jun – Sat 11 Jun 2022.

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