Ben Bailey Smith interview

Ratburger. Charlie Jacobs (Ben Bailey Smith). Copyright: King Bert Productions

Ben Bailey Smith plays a self-righteous TV chef in Ratburger.

What drew you to this project?

One of my daughters is a huge fan of David's books, so it was a unique opportunity to actually appear cool in my house for once. Believe me, such status is a rarefied occurrence!

Please describe your character to us...

Charlie Jacobs is a super self-righteous TV chef, one of the newer generation who thinks he knows best when it comes to the diets of all people, especially children. He's egotistical, pompous and self-obsessed with a lust for fame that's every bit as strong as his passion for the horrific "healthy" dishes he creates. He's essentially something of a villain, which is such a fun job for an actor.

Why has Ratburger struck such a chord with readers?

First off, it's funny. But on another level, I think it's got that classic school setting that we all recognise, particularly younger readers. It also highlights some of the frustrations inherent in the school system, in terms of children not being listened to and adults always thinking they know best. Throw in the age-old debate about what kids should be eating at school and you've got a story that will chime with a lot of people.

Ratburger. Image shows from L to R: Burt (David Walliams), Charlie Jacobs (Ben Bailey Smith). Copyright: King Bert Productions

David's books have sold millions of copies all over the world. Why do they have such universal appeal?

I think he's got a devil-may-care attitude to his writing, a cheekiness that young readers have always loved. His characters are often flawed which makes them more recognisable to us, and of course, he packs his stories with outrageous set-ups and jokes that keep his audience laughing and therefore coming back for more.

Why do think it will work at Christmas?

It's a proper family treat. It's the kind of project built for parents to watch alongside their kids, not just squarely aimed at one group. And that's what Christmas is all about - getting all generations together and having a laugh! So it's perfect.

What do you hope that viewers will take away from watching Ratburger?

Hopefully that food is there to enjoy (within reason!) and that children's opinions are worth something in this crazy world. But most of all, I just hope they laugh.

Published: Friday 22nd December 2017

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