Why did David Walliams leave BGT? Reason comedian isn’t part of 2023 judging panel

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Walliams has apologised for the comments made during the filming of Britain’s Got Talent in 2020

Britain’s Got Talent will return to our screens this weekend but a familar face will be missing.

David Walliams is no longer a judge for Britain’s Got Talent, it has been confirmed. The comedian has been replaced by former Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli.

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Bruno has joined the judging panel alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon for the 2023 series. He said: “Here we are, Britain’s Got Talent. I am so excited. It’s my first show, I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m sure it’s going to be brilliant.”

Walliams’ departure from the popular ITV series comes after the judge was caught on microphone making derogatory and sexually explicit comments about Britain’s Got Talent contestants, according to a report. The comedian was recorded making the statements during the film of the ITV series in 2020. The Guardian reported the comments after reviewing leaked transcripts.

The offensive remarks were made during the filming of audition episodes at the London Palladium in January 2020. Walliams has issued an apology for the statements, but Thames TV has argued that the comments were part of private conversations and not meant for broadcast.

Walliams had been a judge on Britain’s Got Talent since 2012, alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon. The 2020 series was filmed in two parts, one prior to the pandemic and one later in the year after easing of restrictions.

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Britain’s Got Talent will return to ITV on Saturday (15 April). The judging panel will be Bruno Tonioli, Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon.

But what were the comments and what has the reaction been to the remarks? Here is all you need to know:

What did David Walliams say?

The Guardian reports that in one incident the judge described a pensioner who had auditioned as a c*** three times following his audition, during which he’d engaged in light hearted banter with the judges. The comments were picked up by microphones used to capture the reaction of the judges, the audio is often used for

In a second incident, he was recorded making the following comments after a female contestant had an unsuccessful audition. He said: “She’s like the slightly boring girl you meet in the pub that thinks you want to f*** them, but you don’t.

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“I know, she’s just like: ‘Oh, f*** off!’ I was saying, she thinks you want to fuck her, but you don’t. It’s the last thing on your mind, but she’s like: ‘Yep, I bet you do!’ ‘No I don’t!’ I had a bit of a b****, but now it’s going, it’s now shrivelled up inside my body.”

The Guardian said that in reviewing the transcripts for the episodes from 2020 there was no suggestion that any of the other judges also made derogatory statements about contestants.

Britain's Got Talent judge David Walliams is reported to have made obscene comments about contestants.Britain's Got Talent judge David Walliams is reported to have made obscene comments about contestants.
Britain's Got Talent judge David Walliams is reported to have made obscene comments about contestants.

What has the reaction to the comments been?

In a statement given to The Guardian, Walliams said: “I would like to apologise to the people I made disrespectful comments about during breaks in filming for Britain’s Got Talent in 2020. These were private conversations and – like most conversations with friends – were never intended to be shared. Nevertheless, I am sorry.”

A spokesperson for Thames TV described the comments as “inappropriate” but said that the company regarded them as being a private conversation.

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Will David Walliams remain a judge on BGT?

The Sun newspaper reported at the time the comments emerged that David Walliams will quit the hit ITV series after 10 years. He joined the judging pannel in 2012 and has been ever present since.

Bruno Tonioli has replaced him for 2023.

Who is David Walliams and how long has he been a judge?

Born in August 1971, David Walliams is a British comedian, actor and writer. He found early fame with his BBC sketch comedy series Little Britain, alongside Matt Lucas.

Little Britain began as a radio show on BBC Radio 4 in 2000, before moving to TV in 2003. The series initially debuted on BBC Three, before switching to BBC One for its final series in 2007.

David Walliams and Matt Lucas also teamed up for another BBC sketch show in 2010 with Come Fly With Me, it had been renewed for a second series but that never materialised. In 2020 it was removed from Netflix for its use of blackface, brownface and yellowface.

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Walliams is also a bestselling children’s author, having signed a deal with HarperCollins in 2008. His popular works include Mr Stink, Gangsta Granny and Billionaire Boy. All three have been adapted into TV films.

Since 2012, he has been a judge on Britain’s Got Talent alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon. He has been praised for his chemistry with Simon Cowell. In 2022, he was a judge for the 10th series of Australia’s Got Talent.

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