Backstairs Billy
Paperback, 112 pages ISBN: 9781839042799Publication Date:
16 Nov 2023
Size: 198mm x 129mm£10.99 £8.79You save £2.20 (20%)
Ebook, 112 pages ISBN: 9781788507196Publication Date:
16 Nov 2023
£10.99 £8.79You save £2.20 (20%)
First Staged:
Duke of York's Theatre, West End, 2023

Backstairs Billy

By Marcelo Dos Santos

Paperback £10.99£8.79

Ebook £10.99£8.79

  • Most Promising Playwright, Critics' Circle Theatre Awards - 2024

1979. Clarence House, London. The Queen Mother's receptions are in full swing and the champagne is flowing. Guiding the proceedings is William 'Billy' Tallon, page of the backstairs, keeper of the keys, holder of the royal corgis – and the royal secrets.

Outside the palace walls, unemployment, inflation and industrial action are bringing Britain to its knees, and the country is on the verge of changing seismically under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. These two worlds are about to collide, with dizzying consequences for everyone...

Backstairs Billy examines the fifty-year relationship between the Queen Mother and her most loyal, most outrageous servant, who joined her household at the age of fifteen. Marcelo Dos Santos's irreverent comedy was first produced by the Michael Grandage Company at the Duke of York's Theatre, London, in 2023, directed by Grandage and starring Penelope Wilton and Luke Evans.

Marcelo Dos Santos was named Most Promising Playwright at the 2024 Critics' Circle Theatre Awards for Backstairs Billy (he was the joint winner of the award with Matilda Feyiṣayọ Ibini).

'One can't help where one is born. Or one's station, of course. The trick to happiness is to be content where one is. Or so I am told.'

Press Quotes

'The best royal drama in a decade... Abounding with witty entertainment and curiosity value, it confirms the promise shown by Marcelo Dos Santos'


'Nothing has made me laugh more... it's the funniest play Ive seen this year'

Sunday Times

'Gleefully subversive and unexpectedly hard-hitting, with some great one-liners'

Time Out

'Smart and shrewd... the most unusual depiction of an unlikely duo since Judi Dench crossed wits with Billy Connolly in Mrs Brown... by turns devastating and delicious'

Arts Desk

'Plays like a cross between The Crown and X-rated PG Wodehouse'

The Times

'An early festive delight... makes The Crown look too careful'


'Bubblingly witty, with many great one-liners'

Financial Times

'A comedy of manners with a sprinkling of farce, conducted in cut-glass bon mots and bitchy sideswipes'

The Stage

'Full of zinging one-liners and laugh-out-loud moments... Every joke lands with the precision of a targeted missile, always suggesting the sharpness behind the smile... has all the trappings of a West End hit... Dos Santos is undoubtedly a talented writer, with a distinctive voice and a welcome wit'


'Deliciously frothy... consistently funny and entertaining'

Evening Standard

'Fascinating... the writing has sophistication... the Queen Mother would have loved it'


'A frisky frolic that is more than just a caper... Marcelo Dos Santos's play glances at a country on the cusp of Thatcherite change... full of ricocheting puns... the conversation pings electrically'


'A rip-roaring comedy... uproariously funny... a fascinating insight to the inner workings of that famous family'

Theatre Weekly

'Very funny... nicely balances palace gossip with broader ideas about class, power, and way that tradition can both comfort and stifle'

London Theatre

'A sympathetic, subtle portrayal of a uniquely fascinating relationship, full of deliciously arch banter... a right royal laugh that will delight'


'Simply delightful... wonderful... an unexpectedly touching tale of genuine connection... pure entertainment at its finest. Dos Santos folds in a healthy dollop of heart and politics for good measure, but make no mistake; this production is first and foremost an absolute feel-good gem'

Reviews Hub

'Very funny and likely to tickle even the most reluctant royalists in the audience'

Culture Whisper
Paperback,112 pages ISBN: 9781839042799Publication Date:
16 Nov 2023
Size: 198mm x 129mm£10.99 £8.79You save £2.20 (20%)
Ebook,112 pages ISBN: 9781788507196Publication Date:
16 Nov 2023
£10.99 £8.79You save £2.20 (20%)

Also by Marcelo Dos Santos:

Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen
New Labour

Go to author page...

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