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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Annabel Nugent

David Walliams says he has ‘lost his ability to be funny’ in Britain’s Got Talent lawsuit

Getty Images

David Walliams claims he has “lost his ability to be funny” after his exit from Britain’s Got Talent, according to his lawsuit against the producers of the ITV reality show.

Walliams served as a judge on the ITV talent show for 10 years, before exiting the series in January after alleged derogatory remarks he made off-camera about BGT contestants were leaked to The Guardian.

Last month, it emerged that the comedian, 52, is suing Fremantle, the production company behind BGT for a reported £10m in connection with the leaked transcript that ended his 10-year tenure as judge on the show.

The details of his claim were disclosed in The Sun, including allegations that some of his private conversations during filming days were recorded “without his knowledge or consent”.

According to the newspaper, Walliams also claims that he “lost his ability to be funny” after his departure from the programme. He said his exit has also left him with “suicidal thoughts”.

“He feels vulnerable on entering a studio because he fears that what he says and does in that ­setting may be recorded and leaked without his consent,” the publication reports, quoting legal documents.

“Because of the constant concern that any unguarded comments could be used against him, he has lost the ability to be spontaneous or edgy – in short, to be funny.

“His inability to perform in this, his signature manner, has caused him further acute distress, because he has lost an important part of his personal and professional identity.”

Walliams pictured in 2020
— (Getty Images)

The suit also claims that Fremantle carried out a data breach, as per The Sun’s report.

Fremantle  told The Sun that it was saddened by Walliams’ legal action and remained open to dialogue with the comedian “to resolve this matter amicably”.

“However, in the interim we will examine the various allegations and are prepared to robustly defend ourselves if necessary.”

The Independent has contacted Fremantle and Walliams for comment.

According to The Sun, Walliams is seeking damages, which include the £1m he stood to receive from BGT, plus £1.7m in lost earnings from the last year.

The outlet reports that the comedian and children’s book author is requesting an additional £3.4m to cover future losses over at least the next two years, taking the total to £6.1m.

— (Getty Images)

The remaining money, it states, is unspecified damages for psychiatric harm, distress and upset caused, and legal costs.

The legal filings allege that his annual earnings dropped from £3.7m in 2022 to £101,800 in the first five months of the year.

According to the transcripts leaked to The Guardian in November 2022, Walliams allegedly referred to an elderly contestant as a “c**t” multiple times and described a female contestant as “the slightly boring girl you meet in the pub that thinks you want to f*** them, but you don’t”.

Walliams apologised at the time, telling The Independent: “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.”

Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli was announced as his replacement in January this year.

David Walliams on the 2020 semi-final of ‘Britain’s Got Talent'
— (Dymond/Thames/Syco/Shutterstock)

Tonioli joined Simon Cowell, Alesha Dixon, and Amanda Holden on the BGT judge’s panel.

Cowell, who is also one of the producers on the show, broke his silence on Walliams’s exit in April. The creator of the X Factor and Got Talent franchises told The Sun that he “didn’t really get involved in the decision”.

“From what I understand, he decided to take a step back,” he said. “It all happened relatively quickly. I was on holiday and then the next thing is I’m having conversations about who’s going to take his place.

“We did say to the two producers, ‘You have to make the final decision,’ because, yeah, I am an exec producer, but they’re more hands on.”

He continued: “Obviously everyone had some input – the network, the producers, [production company] Fremantle, all of us said at the time, these comments are completely unacceptable.

“I had not heard them before and, yeah, it was upsetting. But from where I’m sitting, this wasn’t something I believe was ­constant.”

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