Dennis & Gnasher interview composer Gavin Higgins

Composer Gavin Higgins and his dog, flanked by illustrations of Dennis and Gnasher
Courtesy of Beano

The Southbank Centre is really old – older than your parents, but perhaps not as old as your teachers. And every year hundreds of famous people come here to talk and perform. But in all those hundreds and hundreds of guests, I don’t think we’ve ever had any quite as mischievous as this!

That’s because someone (although no-one has owned up to it yet) had the bright idea of inviting Dennis and Gnasher to appear here. Yes, that Dennis and Gnasher! Have they never read Beano?! And it gets worse, because not only did they invite Dennis and Gnasher to appear on our stage, they also let them loose with an orchestra, and let them interview a famous composer too!

3 June 2023 is the date we had to brace ourselves for. That’s when Dennis and Gnasher came to the Southbank Centre to join up with the BBC Concert Orchestra and drummer Colin Currie for what must have been the world’s first comiconcerto! I mean it must be! No-one else would be so silly as to book these two trouble-makers! The concert featured lots of pieces of music, including the world premiere – that means the first time it’s ever been performed anywhere – of Beano Concerto, written by music composer Gavin Higgins.

Gavin is the famous composer that someone let Dennis and Gnasher interview! Thankfully, they behaved themselves for us – maybe they were saving up all their mischief for the concert? And so Gavin answered their questions – and still came to the Southbank Centre to perform – and you can read all the questions and Gavin’s great answers below.


Dennis & Gnasher: What’s the most mischievous thing you did when you were my age (Ten!)?

Gavin: I once hid my nan's false teeth in the cupboard under the stairs. She wasn't very happy, but it was very funny hearing her try to speak without them! ‘Mavin, mhere are my meeth!?’


If you could break just one rule without anyone ever discovering it, what would it be?

I think it would be to sneak into an amusement park at night when there's no one around and sit at the front of all the rides without having to queue. That would be lots of fun!


My top three things I own are my red and black jumper, catapult and skateboard! Result! What are yours?

My headphones, because I listen to music all the time and I never leave home without them.

My book collection – I love reading (even though I'm really slow!) and have over a thousand books shoved into bookcases in my flat!

My dog Lyra – though she's got a mind of her own she's by my side every day, from dawn until dusk. She's very mischievous (just like Gnasher!) but she loves hanging around with people and stealing their food!


What’s the best prank you’ve ever played?

I once convinced my friend there was a ghost in her attic late one night! It certainly gave her a fright!


I hate doing chores! What’s one thing that you have to do that you hate doing?

Picking up my dog Lyra's poo! Yuck!


What’s the greatest thing about OUR concert? (But you can't just say the obvious answer: ‘Dennis and Gnasher!')

You'll get to hear a full symphony orchestra LIVE! And you will hear loads of amazing pieces, including my new percussion concerto played by Colin Currie (listen out for lots of weird and unusual sounds like slide whistles, kazoos, dustbin lids, squeaky dog toys, and even some plates being smashed!)


What shortcuts does a kid need to take to be as good at music as you are?

I'm afraid there are no shortcuts to becoming really good at music. To become an excellent musician you have to practise lots and work super hard every day – luckily making music is loads of fun, so it never feels like you're working at all. But if you keep working at it one day you might even get to play with the BBC Concert Orchestra!



Dennis and Gnasher unleashed the BBC Concert Orchestra on Gavin’s music in our Royal Festival Hall, with two concerts, on 3 June 2023.

Singer Julia Bullock performing with the Philharmonia, hands outstretched and wearing a black sequinned sleeveless top
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