7 of the best David Walliams book characters

By BBC Maestro

Writing
Last updated: 12 May 2022

Any reader will remember a character who struck a chord with them. It may have been a wicked grin on a face of a villain - whose evil plans caused havoc - or the tumultuous life of a do-gooder tugging on your heartstrings every time something went wrong for them. Or perhaps it was a larger-than-life character who sought adventure and found it at every turn. Whatever it was that made you remember them, it’s a sign of a good character and an even better writer.

So what makes a great book character you ask? In this article, we’ll share some of the best David Walliams book characters, and the reasons why they are loved by so many.

1.     Granny - Gangsta Granny

Through Ben’s eyes, his grandmother is a person who leads a pretty boring life. Her days are filled with scrabble and eating dull cabbage soup. Little does he know that in Granny’s former life, she was an international jewel thief. Ben has no idea what’s in store, as his Gangsta Granny brings him into her lifelong plot to steal the crown jewels.

Readers love Granny’s character because her story is so unusual – a sweet and endearing grandmother who leads a life of crime and trouble. It’s a tale not many of us will have experienced, but the mystery and surprises within her story are a thrill to readers’ ears. To develop characters like Gangsta Granny, David Walliams encourages people to take inspiration from the characters they’ve met in their own life. But don’t just stop there he recommends. “Real-life mixed with your own imagination can create something more memorable,” he says in his online children’s book course. Doing this will help add a bit of depth to your characters too.

Gangsta Granny

(c) Tony Ross

 

2.     Mr Stink – Mr Stink

The lovely story of Mr Stink has warmed the hearts of readers everywhere. This tale is one of overcoming prejudice to find kindness and friendship where we may not expect it. In this book, the main character, Chloe, notices a homeless man every day but never interacts with him. He looks lonely, and Chloe feels rather lonely too. One day she buckles up the courage to chat with him, and from there, their friendship takes off. Mr Stink is full of humour and wit. Chloe offers him respite from the outside in their garden shed until her mother finds him and is rather confused. It’s a funny and moving story that teaches readers the wise old lesson – don’t judge a book by its cover.

Mr Stink and Chloe

(c) Quentin Blake

 

3.     Dennis - The Boy in The Dress

Dennis is a character who has been praised by many readers. He is an ordinary boy who lives an ordinary life and likes to wear dresses. Dennis confronts some difficult backlash for his choices but soon finds his space in the world where he can be himself. His character is an advocate for anyone who has ever felt a bit different to their peers. This is a story celebrating individuality and aims to teach young readers that they should never feel ashamed of being themselves.

Dennis

(c) Quentin Blake

 

 

4.     Raj The Shopkeeper 

A familiar face to readers of David Walliams’ books - Raj features across nearly every story. This lovable newsagent acts as a pillar in the lives of the young characters entering his shop. His invaluable snippets of advice, paired with his tendency to throw in a discount or two on confectionary, makes the youngsters across each story warm to him instantly.

Of course, many readers may recognise their own local newsagent owner in Raj. “Real life stories can give you some great ideas,” says David in his BBC Maestro course. Raj’s kind and gentle nature reassures the reader that there is always someone you can trust.

Raj the shopkeeper

(c) Quentin Blake

 

5.     Aunt Alberta - Awful Auntie 

Aunt Alberta is a character so well-crafted that readers are often enraged by her presence on the pages. Her behaviour is noted as utterly awful by many. She is manipulative, sinister and pretty evil – a character no reader wants to spend too much time with.

Alberta plots to trick her niece, Stella, out of her inheritance after her parents die in a dreadful car accident. Alberta tortures Stella in cruel ways. It’s hard not to feel both fear and anger towards her as the story evolves. But it’s these emotive responses that are a sign of a great character! Whether you’re gripping the pages or squirming at an uncomfortable line, a character that can provoke something within us and to make us react, is a writer’s best asset.  

 

Awful Auntie

(c) Tony Ross

 

6.     Grandpa – Grandpa’s Great Escape

Jack’s grandfather is full of life. Despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Grandpa’s spark for adventure has never dimmed. Back in the day, Grandpa was a World War II flying ace who now often becomes confused – reliving his days as an RAF Spitfire pilot. Jack seems to be the only one who understands him. One day, Jack decides to help his grandfather escape from his care home. The journey sees them ravelled in mischief.

But the joy for Grandpa’s character comes from his special bond with his beloved grandson. Throughout the story, Grandpa’s boyish, frivolous and innocent behaviour is fun for young readers to follow. His character can help these readers understand conditions like Alzheimer’s better too.

 

Grandpa flies on a plane

(c) Tony Ross

 

7.     Joe Spud - Billionaire Boy

Joe’s story takes readers on a journey from jealousy to empathy. In the beginning, readers learn of his wealth – thanks to his dad’s successful toilet roll business. He has everything he could ever want, and on top of that gets £100,000 in pocket money every week. But life isn’t all great for Joe. He gets teased at school and really wants to have friends. He eventually moves to a comprehensive school where he hides his wealth in an attempt to fit in. Joe has a big heart and tries to help a new friend escape some bullies, but it backfires massively and his secret is blown.

Many readers love Joe’s character because just like Joe, they learn that money isn’t the be-all and end-all, and it can’t buy happiness. Although many do turn green upon hearing the sizable allowance of his pocket money…

 

Billionaire boy

(c) Tony Ross

 

Every one of these characters plays a key role in the success of David Walliams’ books. Their strong personalities and individual agendas shine from the pages to create truly memorable characters. If the descriptions and tales of these have you feeling excited, why not try creating your own characters? Take a look at our character bio template to help you conjure up some new personas for your very own stories. If you’re interested in writing your own book you can find our online writing courses here.

FREE video lesson: How to spark story ideas from real life

With David Walliams
Course Notes
Course Notes

Learn to write for children with David Walliams

Join David as he helps you unlock the story within you that’s waiting to be told.

Along the way, you’ll learn how to build strong characters, how to construct a plot and how to tactfully embed humour into your tales.

He’ll show you how real-life experiences and imagination can work hand in hand together to build a great story.