David Walliams – a schoolboy misfit who was nicknamed Cuthbert

The Little Britain star and cross-channel swimmer reveals how he was an unathletic youngster

Comedian David Walliams was a chubby outsider at his private school, whose nickname was “Cuthbert”.


In an interview with this week’s Radio Times, Martin Russell, Walliams’ former PE teacher at fee-paying Reigate Grammar School, reveals that Walliams was a “chubby lad” who was called Cuthbert for reasons he does not explain.

“I always remember him being called Cuthbert,” the teacher explains. “The playground would have been full of kids playing football, cricket in the summer and that wouldn’t have been his thing. There were benches all around the playground where he’d sit and watch. Through his early years, I’d be surprised if he said he enjoyed school because he was different, quirky…”

Russell notes that Walliams has gone on to sporting success, swimming the channel for Comic Relief in 2006.

He said: “I’d like to think that I was responsible for getting him involved in the swimming, because I taught him PE through the years and he was a really good swimmer. But he was a bit embarrassed and didn’t want to go in with the other lads. He much preferred swimming and training on his own, and I was happy to sit by the side of the pool and let him do that.”

In the interview, Walliams agreed that his own sporting achievements at school were limited.

Referring to the annual cross-country runs, Walliams said: “I would always come last or second to last. By the time I got in, all the other kids would have got changed and be waiting for me. They would applaud the fat boys crossing the finish line in a slightly sarcastic way.”

The married performer also refers to his oft-discussed sexuality.

Walliams, who used to walk around his home in a silk kimono as a child, prompting his father to call him Davina, said: “I think it’s all about falling in love with the person and that is overlooked, really. I hate it when people ‘confess’ or ‘reveal’ their sexuality and also things can change for people over the years.

“So it is about the person but I also think it goes beyond that. You don’t just fall in love with someone’s body, do you? You fall in love with someone’s soul and heart and brain.”