Adaptations of David Walliams’ children’s books have become festive fixtures, with six making the Christmas TV schedules in the past seven years.
The latest, The Midnight Gang, is set in the children’s ward of a decrepit hospital where the matron (Haydn Gwynne), who hates kids, rules with a rod of iron.
However, the youngsters, including new arrival Tom, find ingenious ways to keep their spirits up when everyone is asleep.
Walliams appears as a horrid headmaster, alongside Alan Davies as a porter, Mark Heap (Upstart Crow, Friday Night Dinner) as the hospital administrator and Amit Shah (The Rebel) as a junior doctor, in another cracking tale well told.
TV Times rating: ****
TV Times was invited to watch the cast – which includes Alan Davies as a hospital porter – filming scenes on location in Glasgow. During a break, David, 47, who’s also starring in Sky One’s The Queen and I (Christmas Eve, 6pm), tells us more…
What’s the premise of the The Midnight Gang?
It follows schoolboy Tom [played by Oliver Zetterström], who’s hit on the head by a cricket ball and ends up in hospital. He meets these kids who work together to make their dreams come true at night. My character is preventing Tom’s parents from getting in touch with him. I meet the matron [Haydn Gwynne] and we bond over the fact we both hate kids.
How did you find working with the children?
They started talking to me about Little Britain, and, as they’re so young, I was surprised they’d seen it. They were doing impressions of Lou and Andy!
Were you ever in hospital as a kid?
No, but I had hepatitis in my late 20s and was in a hospital isolation ward for a week. I based Tootsie in The Midnight Gang [played by Jocelyn Jee Esien] on the lady who brought the breakfast trolley round!
What dream did you want to come true as a kid?
I wanted to meet Brian Blessed, because I was a huge Flash Gordon fan. I loved Doctor Who, too; I used to imagine my room was a TARDIS.
Do you enjoy Christmas?
I like Christmas, but the build-up is better than the actual thing! You think it’s going to be all snowy and like Victorian times, then on Christmas Day, it’s raining and you’re stuck inside. But having a child made me realise it’s all about him being happy.