Walliams & Friend. David Walliams. Copyright: King Bert Productions.

Walliams & Friend

BBC One sketch show featuring David Walliams and guest stars. 7 episodes (pilot + 1 series), 2015 - 2017. Stars David Walliams, Morgana Robinson, Mike Wozniak, Ashley Gilmour and others.

Another series is in development.

Walliams & Friend. David Walliams. Copyright: King Bert Productions.

David Walliams interview

David Walliams is back doing the thing he does best... comedy sketches.

Why were you eager to return to sketch comedy with Walliams & Friend?

I wanted to reconnect with something purely comic. This show has no agenda - it's just there to make you laugh. It's rather old-fashioned in that way, like The Two Ronnies.

What do you think of the sketch show format?

A sketch show is a great way of doing comedy, because it is constantly reinventing itself. If you don't like one sketch, another one will be along in a minute. People often try to write off sketch shows and say that they're finished, but they are a perfectly valid way of doing comedy. You can also cover a lot of ground doing sketches. You can do everything from spoofs to relationship comedy.

Were you anxious to make a show that does not replicate your huge sketch show hit, Little Britain?

Yes. The big thing for me was to be different from Little Britain. On that show, we didn't do historical sketches or spoofs. Little Britain had a very strong idea of its own identity. I didn't want Walliams & Friend to be like a spin-off of that. I wanted it to be very much its own thing.

What is the advantage of having a different guest star every week?

It means the show can reinvent itself week to week. It feels very fresh and never gets boring. In other sketch shows, there are a lot of reasons why you end up doing the same characters every week. You need at least a hundred sketches for a series, and that's very hard. But if you're writing for specific people, you can constantly reinvent the show.

Walliams & Friend. Image shows from L to R: Sammy (Jason Lewis), David Walliams, Lindsey (Cariad Lloyd), Jack Whitehall. Copyright: King Bert Productions.

In addition to your guest stars, you are featuring some old-school celebrities such as Bob Carolgees and Spit The Dog...

Yes. I loved working with them all. For instance, it was great filming with The Chuckle Brothers. They're so talented. They're natural clowns. They're very hard workers, too. They come prepared with lots of ideas and really deliver. I'd love to work with them more. It would be great to have them on set every day because they're such fun!

Could you please talk us through the qualities of your six guest stars in this series? Firstly Jack Whitehall...

He's so, so funny. In fact, he is too funny. He needs to be stopped! He made me feel really old when he told me, "I used to love watching Little Britain when I was at school". "I'm sorry, how old are you?" He's still in his 20s. It's absurd!

What about Meera Syal?

She is fantastic. She is very nice, very intelligent and brilliantly funny. Having been in Goodness Gracious Me she's a wonderful sketch performer. But she's also a really good serious actor - she's been in dramas such as Broadchurch before. So she's got a lot of gravitas - unlike me! She is excellent with scripts, and very committed to everything. Meera and I also had the delight of doing a sketch with Jeanette Krankie!

And Sheridan Smith?

She's a consummate actress. She's proven herself on stage and she's a huge star in musicals. She has that vulnerability and likeability that you can really play on. She's like Julie Walters - there is nothing she can't do. Although she is known for comedy, you could give Sheridan any dramatic role and she would excel in it. Not many people have that talent.

Walliams & Friend. Image shows from L to R: David Walliams, Sheridan Smith. Copyright: King Bert Productions.

How about Miranda Richardson?

She is an incredibly classy actress. She is iconic to the nation because of Blackadder. Although it is now 30 years ago, her performance as Queenie is still emblazoned on our imagination. She has done comedy before, with French & Saunders. She is a brilliant and incredibly committed performer. Because she's such a great actress, everything she does is believable.

And Harry Enfield?

I've always been in awe of him. He is one of my absolute favourite comedians. I loved him when I was growing up. When he did Stavros and Loadsamoney on Saturday Live it was so fresh. It's an incredible thing when someone who is your comedy hero treats you as an equal. I never lose that sense of wonder when I meet my comedy heroes.

Walliams & Friend. Image shows from L to R: Mike Wozniak, Hugh Bonneville, David Walliams. Copyright: King Bert Productions.

What about Hugh Bonneville, your guest in the Christmas special?

I worked with him on Mr Stink, and I knew that he was a fantastic comic actor. He throws himself into everything. It's great to see him in a way that we haven't seen him before.

Could you envisage making more series of Walliams & Friend?

I'm very old now! But I'd love to do more. Hopefully it'll stand out because there are so few sketch shows these days. We're trying to be funny in a very uncomplicated way. You don't have to think too much - it's just meant to be a fun watch. The moving moments in The Office are magic. But comedy is valid in all its different forms.

Walliams & Friend is on BBC One on Fridays at 9:30pm.

Published: Sunday 20th November 2016