Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hip Hippo Hooray for New Show; David Walliams Sent Some Hippos to the Moon and You Can See Them on Stage in the North East in the Weeks to Come, as DAVID WHETSTONE Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hip Hippo Hooray for New Show; David Walliams Sent Some Hippos to the Moon and You Can See Them on Stage in the North East in the Weeks to Come, as DAVID WHETSTONE Reports

Article excerpt

HE was famous for Little Britain with old National Youth Theatre chum Matt Lucas, has appeared in loads of TV dramas (not all comedies), swam the Channel for Sport Relief, is Mr Nice to Simon Cowell's Mr Nasty on Britain's Got Talent and hosted the Royal Variety Performance in December.

He even - and who says fame comes without a price? - narrated a show called Top Dog Model on ITV2, although that was five years ago and it didn't come back (not very well trained, evidently).

But I wouldn't mind a punt that in years to come - perhaps in many years to come - David Walliams is most famous as the author of children's books.

A cynic might tell you that he has the name. But the truth is he has the knack, as some 13 million copies sold in 46 languages testifies. And he has long since passed the point of being a one-hit wonder.

The Midnight Gang followed There's a Snake in My School followed Grandpa's Great Escape followed Awful Auntie and Demon Dentist and Ratburger and so on...

He's catching up with his great hero, Roald Dahl.

There have been TV adaptations and now there's a stage version coming our way of The First Hippo on the Moon, Walliams' 2014 picture book for kids aged three and over.

The story tells of two hippos, Sheila and Hercules Waldorf-Franklin III.

Sheila achieves her dream of getting to the Moon, with the help of her animal friends, only to find that arch enemy Hercules has done the same thing. The book has been turned into a stage production by London-based Les Petits Theatre Company with fabulous puppets and the voice of Mr Walliams himself.

Premiered at Christmas in Eastbourne, it is covering most parts of the country including Tyneside and Teesside.

The man behind the story shed some light on the book and the stage play ahead of the first performance on the south coast.

Of the book, with its jolly illustrations by Tony Ross, he said: "I have always been fascinated with the space race of the 1960s and wanted to do a spoof on that.

"I like the idea of hippos going to the moon as they are the animals least likely to."

As for the stage show, he said: "I love great children's theatre shows, especially now I am a father (he has a young son, Alfred, by ex-wife Lara Stone), so am very excited to see this one. …

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