Who is David Walliams?

From sketch show comedian, to beloved fundraiser and Britain’s Got Talent judge, here’s all you need to know about the star

Britain's Got Talent judges 2018: David Walliams

He’s become something of a fixture over the festive season, with David Walliams’s beloved children’s books making ideal TV movies over the Christmas period.

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2018 is no exception to the last few years, with Walliams’ novel The Midnight Gang being adapted for BBC – telling the story of a boy’s adventure sin a hospital ward, battling a vicious matron as he teams up with a friendly porter and his fellow patients.

We’ll also see Walliams, 47, in Sky 1’s The Queen and I, an adaptation of Sue Townsend’s beloved 1992 novel. He plays power-hunger Prime Minister Jack Barker, who ousts the royal family from castle and see them living on a run-down street.

David Walliams as Jack Barker, The Queen and I
David Walliams as Jack Barker, The Queen and I

But what else has the comedian starred in? Here’s everything you need to know.

David Walliams – the early years

Born David Williams, Walliams picked his distinctive stage name after he joined actors’ union Equity, after a David Williams had already been registered.

While studying Drama at the University of Bristol between 1989-1992, Walliams spent the summer performing with the National Youth Theatre, which is where he first met future comedy partner, Matt Lucas.

They appeared together on Paramount Comedy Channel’s Mash and Peas, as well as featuring in Pet Shop Boys’ music video for single I’m With Stupid.

Alone, Walliams starred in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s edgy sketch show Asylum, before starring in their sitcom Spaced and having small part in EastEnders in 2003.

Little Britain

The sketch-show that made Walliams and Lucas household names first started as a radio show on BBC Radio 4, airing from 2000 to 2002. The show made the jump to BBC Three in 2003, with a bigger emphasis on catchphrases while remaining to focus on a pastiche of stereotypes of British characters.

Popular characters on the show depicted by Walliams included Lou Todd, the hapless carer to Lucas’ faux wheelchair-bound Andy Pipkin, and Emily ‘I’m a lady’ Howard.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams, Little Britain (Getty, EH)
Matt Lucas and David Walliams, Little Britain (Getty, EH)

The show was a ratings success for the BBC, with 9.5 million tuning in when the show was promoted to BBC One.

After three seasons, several celebrity-based spin-offs and travelling stage show, Walliams and Lucas announced in 2007 that Little Britain was moving Stateside, before the show ended in 2008.
However, Walliams has said if the show was ever to return, he would approach the larger-than-life characters differently.

“You’d definitely do it differently,” he told the Radio Times. “Because it’s a different time now.

“It’s hard to say specifically how it would be different. There’s all kinds of tolerances that change. People understand people’s predicaments more now. Maybe it’s, ‘We see this differently, we’ve got more information,’ and it would be a different type of joke.”

Come Fly With Me

The success of Little Britain saw Lucas and Walliams pair up for an ‘The Office’-style, fly-on-the-wall mockumentary based inside an airport, drawing influence on the successes of shows such as Airport and Airline.

Debuting on Christmas Day in 2010, the show was the most watched comedy of the year with 10 million viewers, but received mixed reviews from critics and numerous Ofcom complaints due to what some viewers thought were racist depictions of characters.

While the BBC commissioned a second series for Come Fly With Me, it never came to light after Lucas decided not to continue with the programme.

Swimming the Thames: The Big Splash Challenge

Having previously swam the English Channel for Sports Relief, raising £1million in the process, Walliams swam 140 miles along the length of the River Thames in 2011.

It took him eight days to swim the length raising an astonishing £2million for BT’s The Big Splash channel.

The swim, which saw Walliams get a bad case of ‘Thames tummy’ due to the sewage and waste in the river, was documented on BBC One’s David Walliams’ Big Swim: A Sports Relief Challenge, aired in 2012.

Was David Walliams in Doctor Who?

While comedy partner Matt Lucas may be better remembered as Peter Capaldi’s companion Nargoyle, Walliams has had two brief cameos in the Whoniverse.

Having appeared in a Doctor Who radio play in 1999, Walliams made his on-screen debut alongside Matt Smith and Karen Gillan in 2011 in The God Complex as Gibbis.

How long has David Walliams been in Britain’s Got Talent?

David Walliams joined the Britain’s Got Talent judging panel in 2012, joining Alesha Dixon alongside longstanding judges Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell.

Particularly popular with his outlandishly flirtatious behaviour with Cowell, Walliams has won two National Television Awards for Best Judge.

Britain's Got Talent judges 2018: Simon Cowell, David Walliams, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon

Speaking about winning the award, he joked, “Simon is very competitive so it was nice to beat him.

“I think we were both beaten by Mary Berry a couple of years ago, but I think it gets to Simon because he’s a very competitive person. Anything that makes him unhappy, makes me happy.”

Who did David Walliams play in Big School?

Walliams’ penned BBC One traditional comedy Big School, which saw him play socially awkward science teacher Keith Church. In a new year at Greybirdge Secondary, the hapless Keith falls for smouldering new French teacher Sarah Posterm, in an amusing turn from Catherine Tate. However, he faces stiff competition from loutish PE teacher Trevor Gunn (Phillip Glannister).

While it may not have set the comedy world on fire, it was a fairly enjoyable way to spend thirty minutes, relying on a more traditional comedic formula for laughs. It was renewed for a second and final series in 2014.

Was David Walliams in Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime?

In a change from his usual comedy stylings, Walliams starred in, and was executive producer of BBC One’s Partners in Crime based on Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary and N or M.

Walliams played the harebrained Tommy Beresford, whose quick rich schemes fail but has a certain knack for espionage and crime solving. Aided by spirited wife Prudence, or ‘Tuppence’(Jessica Raine) , the pair are thrown into Cold War intrigue in a world full of double agents.

The next Roald Dahl?

Having paired up with HarperCollins in 2008 to write children’s books, Walliams has turned into one of the country’s most successful authors, selling an estimated £16 million worth of books last year alone.

His debut novel, The Boy in the Dress, was released in 2008 – drawing from his own experiences growing up as a child, the book was remade for BBC 1 in 2014, with Walliams cameoing in it.

The Midnight Gang - First Look

Since then, five other of Walliams’ books have been remade for TV, airing around the Christmas or New Year period.

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With his light-hearted, amusing and sharp writing style, Walliams has been compared to classic children’s author Roald Dahl – a comparison further invited by Quentin Blake, who illustrated the first two of his novels.


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