British talent judge David Williams He made derogatory and sexually explicit remarks about the contestants while taping an episode of the ITV show, according to a leaked transcript seen by The Guardian.
Williams, one of the UK’s most popular television personalities and children’s book authors, was recorded referring to one contestant as a “whore” and another saying, “You think you want to fuck her, but you don’t.”
The offensive remarks were made during a taped test show at the London Palladium in January 2020. Lawyers for Walliams and Thames TV, the production company behind Britain’s Got Talent, He argued that the comments were part of a private conversation that he never intended to broadcast.
One incident captured in the script involved an older artist who engaged in some light banter with the judges as he made fun of Walliams.
After an unsuccessful test, the pensioner walked off the stage. The text notes that when he was out of earshot, Williams called him a “whore” three times.
His comments were picked up by the microphones used to capture discussions between the rulers as they sat at their desks in the center of the hall. The recordings are understood to have been made for potential broadcasts on Britain’s Got Talent or other spin-offs, which often feature candid remarks made by the judges between auditions.
The other incident occurred shortly after a contestant on the same show walked off the stage. When her performance was over, Williams said, “She’s like a bit of a boring girl you meet in a bar and think you want to fuck her, but you don’t.”
“She thinks you want to fuck her, but you don’t,” Williams repeated.
Then he added, “I know, it’s like, ‘Oh, shit! I’d say she thinks you want to fuck her, but you don’t. It’s the last thing on your mind, but she says, ‘Yeah, I bet you do!’ ‘No I don’t!’ I had a bit of a boner, but now it goes on, it has now diminished inside my body.”
In a statement, Walliams said: “I would like to apologize to the people I made disrespectful comments about during breaks filming for British’s Got Talent in 2020. These were private conversations that – like most conversations with friends – were never meant to be shared. However, , I am sorry “.
A Thames spokesperson said that although the production company considered Walliams’ comments private, his language was “inappropriate” and he was reminded of the show’s “expectations regarding future professional conduct”.
Walliams’ comments were the only instances of derogatory remarks about contestants in leaked scripts from three episodes reviewed by the Guardian. There is no indication that Simon Cowell or any other judge has made offensive statements about the contestants.
A spokesperson for Cowell and Syco Entertainment, co-producer of Britain’s Got Talent, said: “We were not aware of the alleged conversation until contacted by The Guardian, and while it has not been suggested that Simon heard the alleged statements, we can confirm that he did not. British’s Got Talent is A family show and we do not condone the use of any such language.”
Walliams’ comments about the contestants are likely to raise questions about his behavior on the hit show, and contribute to the ongoing debate over reality television’s ethics and its treatment of audience members.
An ITV spokesperson said the duty of care to those involved in its programming was “of the utmost importance”. “We do not condone the language described in these allegations, and we have spoken to the producers of Britain’s Got Talent.”
ITV has repeatedly faced questions in recent months about the treatment of contestants on some of its favorite reality shows. Earlier this summer, Love Island filed 3,617 complaints with the media regulator, Ofcom, about Perceived misogynistic behavior From some male participants. In March, another ITV show, The Jeremy Kyle Show, was the subject of A strongly-worded documentary on Channel 4 which details an alleged toxic culture.
ITV declined The documentary’s central claim of “bad culture” within the Jeremy Kyle Show production team, and in the current situation Ahead of this year’s series Love Island, the channel released details of the extended Duty of Care protocols for contestants. The audit of each of the ITV shows formed part of 2019 Parliamentary Inquiry into Reality TV.
Separately, The Guardian also viewed a 2012 selection list from the British talent website, used by staff involved in recruiting potential contenders, some of which it described as “buzz”, shortened to “BO”. The document states that the show’s production team selected the contestants they expected to fail in the talent competition.
“He thinks he can go to the final!” Apparently a casting staff member wrote about one of the “buzzy” contestants. “Just because he’s so unpopular.” “I’m not sure it’s bad enough,” said a note next to another rider.
Five former employees who worked on the show’s cast told the Guardian that the terms “BO” and “buzz off” are emblematic of potentially entertaining contestants that the production team thought might underperform and were rejected by the judges. Two former production employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the term was still used in 2016.
Lawyers for the Times did not respond to questions about whether the term was still in use. They acknowledged that BGT’s production staff had at times suspected that a contestant would be a “huge fanfare”, but said they had not put them in the expectation that they would be humiliated. They added that production staff were regularly proven wrong in their assessment of how well the work was doing.
They stressed that all the contestants were evaluated by the judges, based on their performance on the day, and the outcome was never determined in advance. The lawyers added that the Times “occupies the contestants in the highest regard”, has not “exercised or condoned any exploitative or unethical practices towards BGT shareholders” and has a “comprehensive and robust” sponsorship support system in place for the contestants.
A Times spokesperson added: “Contenders are at the heart of it all on Britain’s Got Talent. We’re an all-inclusive show open to anyone – and we’re grateful for every act of auditioning.”
Cowell and Syco’s lawyers said they were unaware that the cast was identifying with the “contestants” contestants. A Cowell and Syco spokesperson added: “The amazing, talented and diverse contestants auditioning are at the heart of British’s Got Talent and we have the utmost respect and gratitude to all involved – and we are incredibly proud of the success of so many Got Talent contestants.”
There is no indication that any of the other judges were aware of or involved in the practice of identifying potential performers as “noisy” contestants.