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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Annabel Nugent

Simon Cowell breaks silence on David Walliams’ derogatory Britain’s Got Talent remarks


Simon Cowell has spoken out for the first time on David Walliams’ departure from Britain’s Got Talent.

BGT returned for its 16th season over the weekend, with longtime star Cowell reuniting with Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon on the judging panel.

The trio were joined by Bruno Toniolo, who has stepped in to replace Walliams.

Back in January, it was confirmed that the Little Britain star would not be reprising his role as a judge on the reality competition following reports that he had made disrespectful comments about contestants.

A transcript obtained by The Guardian allegedly revealed that Walliams described a woman contestant as being like “the slightly boring girl you meet in the pub that thinks you want to f*** them, but you don’t”.

Walliams apologised for his “disrespectful” comments at the time, stating: “These were private conversations and – like most conversations with friends – were never intended to be shared. Nevertheless, I am sorry.”

In a new interview with The Sun, Cowell addressed the controversy surrounding his former co-star’s departure from BGT.

Cowell said that he “didn’t really get involved in the decision”.

BGT (Getty Images)

“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.”

Cowell, 63, 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.

Amanda Holden and David Walliams in 2019 (Getty Images)

“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.”

The Independent has contacted a representative of Walliams for comment.

Earlier this week, Tonioli praised Walliams for reaching out with a “class” response after he joined the panel of the talent show.

After Walliams’s exit, Dixon said that she was “deeply saddened” not to have her “great friend” returning for the 16th series.

Tonioli had previously appeared on the Strictly judging panel since the show began in 2004, leaving in 2020 after the pandemic meant he wasn’t able to travel between the US (where he judged Dancing with the Stars) and the UK on a weekly basis.

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