Gangsta Granny. Granny (Julia McKenzie)
Gangsta Granny

Gangsta Granny

  • TV comedy drama
  • BBC One
  • 2013
  • 1 episode

Adaptation of David Walliams's children's book about a schoolboy who doesn't realise his grandma was once an international jewel thief. Stars Julia McKenzie, Reece Buttery, Miranda Hart, David Walliams, Rob Brydon and more.

Press clippings

David Walliams writes sequel to Gangsta Granny

Children's author David Walliams has written his first-ever book sequel with Gangsta Granny Strikes Again!

Sian Bayley, The Bookseller, 19th October 2021

Publisher reveals 10th anniversary of Gangsta Granny

A special paperback anniversary limited edition of David Walliams and Tony Ross's Gangsta Granny will be published by HarperCollins Children's Books this autumn, to mark a decade since its first release.

Sian Bayley, The Bookseller, 28th July 2021

How David Walliams conquered Christmas

The unlikely rise of the bestselling children's author.

Anna Leszkiewicz, The New Statesman, 5th December 2018

To me Gangsta Granny was no different to Mr Stink, as the plot once again concerned a young protagonist who simply didn't fit in with the rest of their family.

Of all of the programmes that have been on during the festive season, Gangsta Granny is the only one that I can envision the entire family settling down to watch together.

Incredibly funny in places, especially when focusing on Ben's parents, at its heart Gangsta Granny was a simple story about the bond between a boy and his grandmother. The abiding message of Gangsta Granny was that youngsters shouldn't see their grandparents as boring because, just like them, they were also young once.

Gangsta Granny also benefited from a number of great performances, most notably from young Reece Buttery as the incredibly expressive Ben and by Julia McKenzie who was terrific as the pensioner with a massive secret. The costumes added an extra element of comedy to proceedings while Matt Lipsey's direction was superb. By the time Gangsta Granny had come to an end I had laughed, cried and finished up with a big smile on my face and that's all I really ask for from a programme such as this.

Matt Donnelly, The Custard TV, 28th December 2013

David Walliams's 2011 children's book, his fourth, has sold more than 430,000 copies, which means there are at least that many imagined versions out there of Ben's adventures with his surprisingly acquisitive grandmother. The team behind last year's Walliams adaptation, Mr Stink, now turn their attention to Gangsta Granny, with Julia McKenzie as the titular lawbreaker.

Schoolboy Ben (Reece Buttery) is bored rigid by the soup 'n' Scrabble regime at Granny's house until she reveals that she was once an international jewel thief. Like many career criminals, she's haunted by the audacious heist she never pulled off, and together Ben and his grandma - aka the Black Cat - decide to complete it.

A child's-view of adult quirks is part of what makes David Walliams's stories special, and he appears here as Ben's dad, with Miranda Hart as Ben's mum. Obsessed with Strictly Come Dancing, they're the ultimate source of mortification for any 11-year-old.

Emma Sturgess, Radio Times, 26th December 2013

David Walliams stars in this likeable adaptation of his best-selling kids' book about Ben (Reece Buttery), a neglected, plumbing-mad boy, and his seemingly boring gran (the brilliant Julia McKenzie) who's not what she seems.

Ben's selfish, ballroom-dancing-crazed parents, played as hideous comic creations by Walliams and a glammed-up Miranda Hart, drop Ben off at his gran's every weekend, where he's subjected to cabbage soup, painful silences and endless rounds of scrabble. At breaking point, he discovers valuables in her biscuit tin and forces her to confess her sideline as an international jewel thief. Their shared secret leads to an ambitious heist, but hot on the tail of gran's mobility scooter is nosy neighbour Mr Parker.

Although it takes a while to warm up, there are moments of real humour, especially in the hospital breakout and ballroom scenes. Expect to see more Robbie Williams on our screens too - he holds his own rather well as the faux-Italian Flavio. It's a slight story with a big heart, and it's surprisingly poignant when the Queen (Joanna Lumley - who else?) makes a plea for the young to respect the old.

Debra Waters, Time Out, 26th December 2013

Gangsta Granny review

Whilst not a completely smooth drama (Joanna Lumley's dancing, anyone?), Gangsta Granny delivered exactly what you'd expect from a Christmas family programme: funny, heart-warming and rollicking drama.

Patrick Sproull, Den Of Geek, 26th December 2013

Gangsta Granny: When Robbie Williams met Miss Marple

A Christmas adaptation of David Walliams's Gangsta Granny has attracted an all-star cast. James Rampton joins them on set.

James Rampton, The Independent, 24th December 2013

David Walliams calls in a lifetime's worth of showbiz favours to create this talent-strewn version of his bestselling children's novel. Young Ben (Reece Buttery) is dispatched to stay with his grandmother, who runs a tight ship based on nights in, Scrabble and cabbage soup. He is, understandably, bored out of his tiny mind. Until somehow it transpires that gran was once an international jewel thief and she needs her grandson's help to tie up some unfinished business. Cue a crazy romp that takes in a meeting with the Queen (played by Joanna Lumley) and the unwanted interventions of a nosy neighbour (Rob Brydon). Walliams himself appears as Ben's Strictly-obsessed dad, opposite Miranda Hart as his mum. 
What japes.

The Scotsman, 23rd December 2013

Miranda Hart tells of her tango-tastic role

Dressed in a low-cut, red-feathered flamenco dress, a giant diamanté necklace and with her face covered in fake tan and bright red lipstick, Miranda Hart is about to transfix us with her tango.

Daily Mail, 21st December 2013

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