Why is David Walliams not on Britain's Got Talent 2023?

The writer and comedian stepped down as a judge after 10 years on the ITV talent show

David Walliams posing at a BAFTAs after party
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fans of the talent show are wondering why David Walliams isn't on Britain's Got Talent this year.

Comedian turned children's author David Walliams had been a judge on BGT since 2012 - alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon - but fans of the ITV talent show were left shocked back in November 2022 when it was reported that he would be leaving the show after 10 years.

The departure of Walliams - who was forced to apologise earlier that same month for making foul-mouthed comments about contestants during filming back in 2020 - has left many wanting to know why did David Walliams leave Britain's Got Talent? 

Why is David Walliams not on Britain's Got Talent 2023?

David Walliams reportedly decided to leave Britain's Got Talent because he feels it's "time to move on and focus on his other projects." A source told The Sun, "He hasn’t taken the decision lightly, but it just feels like time to move on."

Though the comedian never made a formal confirmation on his departure from the talent show, it was widely reported that he was expected to step down following the leaking of his disrespectful comments about contestants auditioning for the show.

A source close to Walliams told The Sun, "David has decided to bow out after a ten-year run. Being on the show has been a huge source of entertainment and joy for him and he is arguably the most popular member of the panel.

"He hasn’t taken the decision lightly, but it feels like time to move on and focus on his other projects."

The source added: "His team have quietly been having conversations over the past few days where it has been made clear that David is readying himself to step down – and then producers will start to think about who might replace him.

"His exit might not be popular with fans who adore him, but for David it appears that now, after an amazing ten years on the show, it is the right time to move on."

Meanwhile, Walliams' Little Britain co-star Matt Lucas hinted that the pair have an upcoming project that may be part of the reason Walliams left BGT.

Speaking on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on Radio 2, Lucas said: "Me and David Walliams have started writing together again. We just thought it was time so we quit our jobs and decided to do that.

"We’re really excited about it. It will be a show with us playing lots of characters. But we have to write the treatment for it and we have to go and pitch it and see if anyone wants to make it. But if someone wants to make it, we’ll be thrilled to do it."

Who has replaced David Walliams on BGT?

David Walliams is being replaced as a judge on Britain's Got Talent by Bruno Tonioli, who is best known for his previous role as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

The Italian choreographer and dancer left the BBC show in 2021 and was replaced by longstanding professional dancer Anton Du Beke, though Tonioli still appears as a judge on America's Dancing With The Stars

He made his first BGT appearance on Tuesday 24 January at the first judge's audition of the 2023 series at the London Palladium, and said on air: "Here we are, Britain's Got Talent. I am so excited. It's my first show, I have no idea what's going to happen, but I'm sure it's going to be brilliant."

Bruno recently revealed to Radio Times, "I haven't seen David [Walliams], but he was the first person to send me a message saying congratulations. He also sent a fantastic bottle of Italian wine to my dressing room on my first day. I thought that was absolute class."

What did David Walliams say about BGT contestants?

According to the leaked transcript obtained by The Guardian, David Walliams called one contestant a "c***" three times and mocked another during breaks in filming BGT auditions back in 2020.

One of the incidents involved a performer who engaged in some banter with the judges, in which he made a jibe about Walliams. After the contestant was off stage and out of earshot, Walliams described him as "a c***" three times.

Another incident occurred after a female contestant left the stage, when Walliams said: "She’s like the slightly boring girl you meet in the pub that thinks you want to f*** them, but you don’t."

The comments were picked up by microphones used to record discussion between the judges.

After the comments came to light, Walliams said in a statement: "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."

In a statement at the time, ITV said, "We do not condone the language outlined in these allegations, and we have spoken to the producers of Britain's Got Talent.

"Duty of care towards all participants on any of our programmes is always of paramount importance and we have protocols and guidelines in place for all our production partners."

Meanwhile, Thames TV said: "Although relating to a private conversation almost three years ago, the language used was inappropriate. Even though it was private, those involved have been spoken to and reminded of their responsibilities and the show’s expectations as to future professional conduct."

Walliams had been booked to appear on Jonathan Ross' chat show that Saturday after his comments were made public, but made the decision to pull out from the programme.

The Guardian reported that Walliams’ comments were the only instances of derogatory remarks made about contestants from three episodes that were reviewed.

When does Britain's Got Talent start in 2023?

Britain's Got Talent 2023 starts on Saturday 15 April. It will air on ITV at 8pm, and the following episode will air at 7.45pm on Sunday 16 April. If you miss it, you can catch up on ITVX.

Judges auditions for Britain's Got Talent 2023 started on Tuesday 24 January at the London Palladium and continued until Sunday 29, after which the auditions moved to The Lowry in Salford, Greater Manchester.

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Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.

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