Was Simon Cowell shot on Britain’s Got Talent? Judge Bruno Tonioli crossbow prank explained amid backlash

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In 2021, Cowell pulled the same stunt on Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara

The new season of Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) will be coming to our screens in 2023, but the latest series has been making headlines before it’s even aired after an “inappropriate” prank by judge Simon Cowell.

Filming for the season’s 16th series is currently underway, with a brand new judge on the lineup. Strictly’s Bruno Tonioli will be taking over the reins from David Walliams who stepped down after it was discovered he had made a number of disrespectful comments about former BGT contestants.

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However, the new judge had a startling experience during a reported prank by Simon Cowell involving a crossbow, the stunt has since drawn backlash, so what exactly happened and was Cowell shot on BGT? Here’s everything you need to know.

Was Simon Cowell shot on Britain’s Got Talent?

New BGT judge Tonioli has reportedly been tricked into thinking he shot Cowell with a crossbow during an on-stage prank at the Lowry Theatre, in Salford. Reported by The Sun, the incident, which was uploaded to TikTok by an audience member, saw the former Strictly judge blindfolded and told to shoot a crossbow at Cowell, who lay down on the floor and was set up to play dead.

Britain’s Got Talent Judges (L-R): Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell (Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images)Britain’s Got Talent Judges (L-R): Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell (Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images)
Britain’s Got Talent Judges (L-R): Bruno Tonioli, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell (Photo: Dominic Lipinski/Getty Images)

A source told The Sun, Tonioli had felt that the prank was “inappropriate”. They continued: “The explosive prank was really effective and Bruno completely fell for it, believing for a few seconds he had he had shot Simon. He was genuinely panicked and for a moment really thought something had gone badly wrong.” They added: “Despite it making amazing TV, Bruno felt it was too over the top and inappropriate. He said it felt wrong in light of the death of Halyna Hutchins on the Alec Baldwin film set in 2021.”

The actor Alec Baldwin is facing involuntary manslaughter charges after firing a prop gun on the set of Rust in 2021 which resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

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Did Cowedo the same prank to Sofia Vergara?

This is not the first time that Cowell has pulled this prank on a fellow judge. In 2021 on America’s Got Talent he tricked judge and Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara into thinking she had shot him with a crossbow. Using the help of stunt couple Ryan Stock and Amberlynn Walker, Vergara was blindfolded and told to fire the crossbow at Cowell, who was already lying down on the ground, complete with prop arrow and fake blood.

Upon removing her blindfold Vergara was speechless, with Cowell telling her “I got you!”. The actress responded: “You know I’m Colombian and we get revenge.” She shared the clip of the prank on her Instagram account alongside the caption: “I nearly had a heart attack when I took off that blindfold.”

What has the reaction been?

The prank has been met with backlash. Speaking to The Sun, Laura Sudgen who was wounded and lost her partner Shane Gilmer in a crossbow attack in 2018 called the stunt “disgraceful”. Sudgen said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful.” She continued: “It’s no joke.”

Sudgen added: “I can’t believe it’s even allowed on the show. It’s not regulated, but it’s a lethal weapon. I’ve been in a situation where I’ve lost somebody. For Britain’s Got Talent to showcase that as a prank I just find really disrespectful. If they show that on the show — and I’ve always watched Britain’s Got Talent — I wouldn’t watch it again. It’s absolutely disgraceful.”

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