Grandpa’s Great Escape to tour arenas this Christmas

Nigel Planer joins the cast of the David Walliams' stage adaptation.

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Grandpa’s Great Escape Live, the first ever stage adaptation of David Walliams’ bestselling book will tour UK arenas this Christmas.

The production opens in Birmingham on Monday 23 December 2019, before heading to London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Liverpool.

It has now been confirmed that actor and comedian Nigel Planer – best known for playing Neil in cult comedy The Young Ones – will star as Grandpa. Planer’s stage credits include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Hairspray, Chicago, Wicked and We Will Rock You.

“It’s a great honour to be asked to play Grandpa in the live version of this amazing and cockle-warming story by David Walliams,” Nigel Planer says. “It’s set to be such an amazing spectacular and I can’t wait to drive a tank and fly a life-size Spitfire over audiences around the country!”

The live production follows the acclaimed BBC One film adaptation of the book, which aired in December 2018 starring Jennifer Saunders, Kit Connor, Samantha Spiro and David Walliams.

Published in September 2015, Grandpa’s Great Escape is David Walliams’ eighth book. The novel, illustrated by Tony Ross, tells the tale of a young boy called Jack, who is trying to rescue his ex-World War II pilot Grandpa from Twilight Towers – a care home run by the evil Matron Swine.

The uplifting tale sees Grandpa take a final chance to re-live his past and once again take flight in his beloved Spitfire.

The stage design for the new production will see arenas around the country transformed into London, including landmarks Buckingham Palace and The River Thames.

About the new stage adaptation, Walliams says: “Grandpa’s Great Escape Live is an incredible new development for the book. We’re not just turning it into a live show, but into a spectacular live arena show for all the family this Christmas. Being in arenas means we can have a life-size Spitfire, a tank, the London landscape and a dramatic escape from the Imperial War Museum. It’s great because we can really go to town with all of those elements and this story demands that scale. I’m delighted to be involved with this arena tour of Grandpa’s Great Escape Live, working with fantastic people like the director Sean Foley and Kevin Cecil, who’s written the script. I couldn’t be more excited about it!”

Grandpa’s Great Escape will be directed by Tony® Award nominee Sean Foley (The Catherine Tate Show Live, The Painkiller) and the stage design has been created by Stufish Productions (Cirque Du Soleil, Beyonce & Jay-Z, Madonna).

The script for the stage adaption of the book was written by Kevin Cecil (Little Britain) and the casting for the show will be announced soon.

Suitable for the whole family to attend, there will be two performances of the show on each day of the tour.

Here are the dates:

23 December 2019 – Arena Birmingham (16:00 & 19:00)
24 December 2019 – Arena Birmingham (13:00 & 16:00)
26 December 2019 – Arena Birmingham (16:00 & 19:00)
27 December 2019 – The SSE Arena Wembley, London (16:00 & 19:00)
28 December 2019 – The SSE Arena Wembley, London (16:00 & 19:00)
29 December 2019 – FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield (16:00 & 19:00)
30 December 2019 – Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham (16:00 & 19:00)
1 January 2020 – Manchester Arena (16:00 & 19:00)
2 January 2020 – Utilita Arena, Newcastle (16:00 & 19:00)
3 January 2020 – The SSE Hydro, Glasgow (16:00 & 19:00)
4 January 2020 – M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool (16:00 & 19:00)

**The show runs at approximately 90 minutes without interval**

Tickets to see Grandpa’s Great Escape this Christmas are available now through