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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lisa McLoughlin

Simon Cowell says David Walliams’ BGT comments were ‘unacceptable’ as he addresses comedian’s departure

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

Last year, the Little Britain star was forced to apologise after leaked recordings exposed scathing remarks he made about contestants.

Amid the furore, Walliams wrote in a statement at the time: “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.”

Soon after publicly apologising for his comments, Walliams stepped down from the judging panel and was replaced by former Strictly judge Bruno Tonioli, 67.

Now in light of the new series airing, Cowell, 63, has broken his silence on the former judge’s departure and branded the remarks the comedian made as “unacceptable and upsetting”.

Walliams was replaced by Bruno Tonioli on the judging panel. Pictured with Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell (PA Wire)

When asked about the situation, the TV star, who is one of the show’s producers also, told The Sun: “I didn’t really get involved in the decision. From what I understand, he decided to take a step back.

“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.”

Cowell said that he told “the two producers” to “make the final decision” after Walliams’ comments emerged, explaining they are “more hands on” with the production.

He continued: “Obviously everyone had some input – the network, the producers, Fremantle, all of us said at the time, these comments are completely unacceptable. I had not heard them before and, yeah, it was upsetting.”

Cowell admitted he didn’t think Walliams’ comments about contestants were a “constant” thing, insisting that he always “seemed very respectful”.

The music mogul concluded: “But from where I’m sitting, this wasn’t something I believe was constant. Most of the time David seemed very respectful and emotional about the contestants and was doing ­everything that a judge should be doing on a show like this.”

The Standard has contacted David Walliams’ rep for comment.

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