If comedian and children’s author David Walliams had not become famous, he would have preferred to have become a teacher.
The Little Britain star said the experience of being in a classroom when he was a boy with several inspirational teachers had stayed with him for his whole adult life.
“I think I would like to be a teacher because teachers, you get to perform – and if you are a fun or inspiring teacher, you are never forgotten,” Walliams said.
“I had this brilliant English teacher at school who did this brilliant thing. At the end of the lesson, he would start telling us a story.
“He’d say: ‘There was this knight in a castle and one night he committed this murder…’ At the end, he’d say: ‘And that’s the story of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth’.
“It was such a clever idea because if he’d started by saying he was going to tell us the story of this Shakespeare play, we’d have said: ‘Boring.’
“He was so inspiring, and his name was Patrick Carpmael, and I loved him and love him to this day.
“Teachers like that who encouraged me with reading and writing will stay with me forever.
“You never forget a great teacher and you don’t need that many great ones in your life or ones that somehow you have a connection with that inspire you.”
Williams was speaking at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye ahead of the publication of his new book Megamonster, which he was inspired to write following a conversation with his eight-year-old son.
“My son kept talking about a megamonster and saying what if there was a monster made out of all lots of different monsters called the megamonster and I thought this was a great idea,” he said.
“We started talking about it and he gave me some ideas. I had so much fun writing it and I wanted to make it as fun as possible.”
Walliams launched his successful television career in partnership with Matt Lucas, and since then he has become a judge on Britain’s Got Talent and written many children’s books.
Asked whether he prefers writing or being on television, Walliams said: “The thing about writing is that it is a bit more of a slog as you are on your own and you don’t get that immediate buzz you get when you perform.
“I think that sense of pride when you are given the book is greater because it is a physical thing – ‘I wrote that.’”
Walliams described seeing his name on his first ever published book, The Boy In The Dress, as “magic” as it was illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake, who is well known for his collaborations with Roald Dahl.
“When Quentin showed me the cover, I had tears in my eyes and I was sat there talking to this person that had been such a hero to me,” Walliams said.
“I did feel very emotional when I got the actual book. Books are beautiful and are things to treasure.
“You do a TV show and you get a DVD, it’s OK, but it’s not… a book is kind of forever in a way that TV isn’t.
“It was a real, real thrill and I couldn’t wait to give the book to everyone I knew.”
Walliams said it was important to visit children in schools and encourage them to read books and think about writing their own stories.
“I’m delighted that kids like reading my books and I think it is a responsibility,” he said.
“Some grown-ups tell me that kids that don’t like reading very much until they read one of mine.
“Hopefully, they will go on to read other authors. Getting kids into reading is super important.”