David Walliams: I received 500 letters because I had two chapter 37s

Young readers “love” spotting mistakes, the children’s author revealed at the Radio Times Festival

Children’s author David Walliams admits his young readers are tough critics as they “love” spotting mistakes.


“Children like to write in letters when you’ve made a mistake in a book. They love that more than anything,” Walliams revealed at the Radio Times Festival.

“In one book we had two chapter 37s by mistake – well, it wasn’t actually my mistake, it was the editors – and I think I got about 500 letters pointing that out,” he laughed.

Walliams wasn’t taking any chances with his latest book, Grandpa’s Great Escape, and had a historical expert check over his story of a confused grandfather who thinks he’s been shipped off to a prisoner of war camp (he’s in a nursing home), who plots a daring escape with his grandson Jack.

In addition, Walliams spent time at the Imperial War Museum and took to the skies in a Spitfire, as he wanted to know what it felt like to fly one before writing about it.

“I actually got to take control of the plane from the pilot. He gave me the controls. I had them for about 10 seconds before I was like, ‘You take it!’ It’s like a sports car in the air. We did loop de loops and victory rolls.”

“Jack has all of these imaginary adventures with his grandpa and all he wanted to do was fly a spitfire, so I felt I had to fly one,” Walliams added.

The author delighted the crowd with readings from this latest book and the hugely popular Gangsta Granny.


Walliams also teased that fan-favourite Raj may one day get his own book. “Maybe if I can think of a story. Maybe one day.”