Little Britain star David Walliams says his childhood influenced the story behind his first children's book, The Boy In The Dress. It's about a schoolboy who dresses up as a girl and the cross-dressing comedian says his sister used to do the same to him. He also tells Newsbeat that we haven't seen the last of Little Britain.
Comedian David Walliams promotes his first book The Boy In The Dress
When did you write this book?
I started writing the book last year and it took about six months to write. But I'd write it intermittently because I was doing other things at the time, like writing the show with Matt for Little Britain USA. It's very exciting to now be holding it in my hand and I think they've done a beautiful job of packaging it. Quentin Blake, who illustrated all the Roald Dahl books, has done the illustrations and he's done a really beautiful job. If nothing else happens in my life I can go, 'Quentin Blake illustrated a book I wrote'.
That must have been quite exciting, getting Quentin Blake to agree to do the illustrations?
Yeah. Getting Quentin Blake on board was amazing. I never thought we could tempt him to do it because he does so little these days and obviously he's very well known as doing the illustrations for all the Roald Dahl's children's books. He asked to read the manuscript and he read it and liked it and he said yes. I'm pleased he did it on the merit of the book not just because I'm well known because I'm on the TV.
Is it something you've always wanted to do or was it just an idea you had for a story?
I had the idea of, 'What if a 12-year-old boy went to school dressed as a girl?'. Then I thought, 'What's the best medium for this?'. And I thought, 'Well, it's a story about a child, so maybe it should be a book for children.' Because I'd never written a book before it felt like an exciting new project. It's kind of weird writing on your own if you're used to writing with someone else. In some ways it's nice to have someone else's input, especially when you can't think of a joke. But then the other part of it is that you get to choose exactly what gets put down on the page.
In the thank you notes at the beginning of the book you thank your sister for dressing you up in the first place. Did that inspire you to do the book?
There's a picture on the inside back cover of the book of me dressed in a mauve bridesmaid outfit with a fur hat on with my sister when I was about three and she was about five. She always wanted a younger sister and didn't care that I was a boy and just dressed me up anyway. People ask if it's autobiographical. It isn't really, but certainly cross-dressing was something I used to do from a young age. When you're pre-school you don't really have a sense of what you should and shouldn't wear and you just do it for fun. Dennis, the hero of the story, is 12 years old so he knows what he's doing. But he's doing it for fun really. We never use the word transvestite in the book. It's just dressing up. It's just fun for him.
David Walliams and Matt Lucas as Tom and Mark in Little Britain USA
Has there been any criticism surrounding the character of a cross-dressing boy in a children's book? Are you expecting any?
The dressing up is really a metaphor for being different. Dennis has got a friend Darvesh who's a Sikh boy and he's the only Sikh boy at school. He feels different too. Kids feel different for all manner of reasons and I want them to read the book and see it as a celebration of being different.
Little Britain USA is on BBC One on Friday. Are you nervous about that or do you not get nerves anymore about new projects?
It's weird. Obviously we finished the TV show a couple of months ago, so I was nervous when we were making it but now it's on I hope people like it and I hope we get a nice critical reaction. But you can't worry about it too much because it's finished now. There's nothing I can do to change it. It's more exciting when something's on.
The exciting thing is actually when you're sitting at home watching Strictly Come Dancing and the trailer comes on and you're not expecting to see it and you go, 'Ooh, I'm on TV.' That is quite exciting. It would be sad if that ever left you totally, if you were always blasť about it. I'm not blasť. I always tell my mum when I'm on the radio.
You have a few celebrity fans in America like David Schwimmer and Rosie O'Donnell. How confident are you that it will be a success?
We were really lucky that some high-profile American people wanted to get involved. David Schwimmer directed the studio sequences. Rosie O'Donnell is in a fat fighters sketch with Marjorie Dawes. Paul Rudd, who's a well known American comedy actor who's been in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up and Friends, is in it too. Sting makes an appearance. As Emily Howard I get to kiss Sting which could have been nicer because he has a beard and I got quite bad stubble rash.
Robert Vaughn, who was the Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Magnificent Seven and Bullitt, gets to meet Bubbles. I was actually most excited about meeting him because he's a proper cinema legend. It was a real thrill that those people got involved. We didn't want to have too many celebrities because we felt in America we hadn't earned it yet. We're not well known there so we didn't want to have every sketch with people in it.
Is that it now for Little Britain?
The first episode has just been shown in America on HBO, so probably towards the end of the run which is six weeks in America, we'll get to find out whether we'll make more shows for HBO, which we're excited about. If we do, we'll make another series next year that will be on the BBC too. That's what we're hoping will happen. If not, we will probably open a tea and cake shop somewhere on the south coast.
What's the latest on your film plans with Matt Lucas?
We're developing a film at the moment with DreamWorks, which is the company that Steven Spielberg runs. It's through Ben Stiller's production company Red Hour. It's very early days and we've just done our first draft of the script with another writer. We're very excited about it but it's probably years away from ever being made. So it would be silly to start promoting it now because it's not definitely going to happen. Obviously it's something we'd like to do. We look at someone like Sacha Baron Cohen, who had two series on HBO with Ali G in the USA and he went on to make Borat, one of the funniest films of all time. You obviously think, 'Wow. Wouldn't that be great to emulate his success.' It's something we're definitely persuing.
David Walliams appears as Sebastian for Comic relief
Would there be characters from Little Britain?
It might be a couple of characters from Little Britain but also lots of new characters. That's where we're at at the moment. But I think it would be fun for us to do a multi-character film like Mike Myers and Austin Powers. I always liked that he's Austin Powers and Doctor Evil and Fat Bastard and Gold Member. He plays all those characters and there's a fun to that. That's something that me and Matt are known for and hopefully we do well. It would probably be a good thing for us to do in a movie.
David Walliams was talking to Newsbeat entertainment reporter Sarah Jane Griffiths.