THE stage version of David Walliams' acclaimed novel Gangsta Granny will be staged at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton next week.
Staged at the New Brighton venue from next Wednesday to Saturday, April 6-10, it was inspired by the Little Britain star's childhood visits to his grandmothers.
It opens with Ben having to visit his boring old grandma.
One day he finds a tin filled with diamonds and gems which leads to the amazing discovery that his granny was once an international jewel thief!
Persuaded by Ben, they decide to take on the biggest heist ever to steal the Crown Jewels and the adventure of their lifetimes is about to begin.
David Walliams said he used to sit captivated at the knees of his two grandmas as they span him tales of their lives.
The actor, writer and comedian was amazed at how dramatic and exciting their experiences of World War II had been.
Decades later he decided to return to those days of his childhood and recreate that special bond between children and their grandmothers.
Gangsta Granny was the result.
Published in 2011, it went straight to number one in the children’s book charts and has gone on to be the most successful of all his novels so far.
He said: "When I was a child I would spend lots of time with my grandmas.
"Sometimes I would selfishly think spending time with them could be boring but when I got them on a subject like living in London during World War II when bombs were raining down, they would become very animated and I would be enthralled. I realised everyone has a story to tell."
Born in Surrey, David studied drama at Bristol University before joining with Matt Lucas to create the television show Little Britain. Now a well-known actor, David decided to try his hand at fiction.
Those novels, including Ratburger, Demon Dentist, Mr Stink and Billionaire Boy, have all been hugely successful, topping charts and winning a host of awards.
David has now sold more than sold million books and his stories translated have been translated into 40 languages.
Awful Auntie was the fastest selling hardback of 2014 and went on to win the National Book Awards for Children’s Book of the Year and Audiobook of the Year.
His brand new book Grandpa’s Great Escape has just been published.
He said: "The only limitation in a children's book is your imagination.
"You can take children on magical journeys in books that many adults would be reluctant to go on.
"Children love to be scared but it can't be too horrifying.
"Children love to laugh but it can't be too rude. You always have to be the right side of the line.”
David has frequently been compared to Roald Dahl, his own childhood writing hero. He said: "I think Dahl's books always feel a little bit forbidden.
"He manages to balance the humour and scary elements in his stories perfectly.
"My favourite is The Twits which is utterly hilarious and I love that it is a children's book with no child characters."
Two years after it was published, the BBC made a film version of Gangsta Granny which was shown as part of its Christmas schedule.
The star-studded cast featured Reece Buttery as Ben and Julia McKenzie as Granny.
Also appearing were Joanna Lumley, Rob Brydon, the singer Robbie Williams, Miranda Hart as Ben's mum and David Walliams as his dad.
After the success of the television film, it seemed only natural that Gangsta Granny should become a stage show.
David was approached by the Birmingham Stage Company, whose string of Roald Dahl adaptations including James and the Giant Peach and George's Marvellous Medicine made it an obvious contender and when David saw their West End production of Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain, the deal was sealed.
He said: "It's a huge thrill seeing Gangsta Granny have this whole new life on the stage.
"There is lots of action in Gangsta Granny, especially when they try to steal the Crown Jewels.
"The challenge was bringing those scenes to life.
"But having seen the production's first night at Birmingham last November I think its a fantastic show, so much better than the book!"
David loved watching some of his characters take shape.
He said: "I especially like the characters of Ben's mum and dad.
"They have an obsession with ballroom dancing which is very funny live on stage.
"The great thing about seeing Gangsta Granny in the theatre is the audience gets to share the fun together.
"It was wonderful at The New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham on opening night laughing and crying along with everyone else. That's what makes theatre so special."
Tickets for the show are from the Floral Pavilion box office on 0151 666 0000.