David Walliams ‘locked in Italian prison cell for seven hours’ during Venice trip

‘Little Britain’ star told onlookers at Henley Literary Festival 2023 that he was recently apprehended at an airport in Venice

Louis Chilton
Monday 09 October 2023 06:47 BST
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David Walliams revealed during an event at Henley Literary Festival 2023 that he was taken into custody for seven hours by Italian authorities during a recent trip to Venice.

The children’s author and Little Britain star appeared at the annual festival in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire – for which The Independent is the exclusive news partner – in a children’s event ahead of the release of his new book The Blunders.

During a Q&A section at the end of the talk, Walliams spoke about being apprehended by the Italian police, and fielded a question about his controversial departure from Britain’s Got Talent.

Asked by a young attendee about his favourite place to write, the Boy in a Dress author launched into an anecdote about being taken into custody by Italian customs officials after travelling with an expired passport.

“I’ll tell you a story that I haven’t told anyone yet,” he began. “Recently I went to Venice for a little weekend, and I have two passports. One that is out of date, and one that isn’t. By accident, I picked up the out-of-date one. And this wasn’t spotted at Heathrow. It wasn’t until I arrived at Venice that it was spotted. And I was taken away by the Italian police, and I was locked in the cell for seven hours.

“I was only at one point asked if I fancied a glass of water. But luckily, my laptop was fully charged. I had my little carry-on luggage, and I sat there, and I typed for seven hours straight, and the time passed very well. So the best place to write, for me, is an Italian prison cell.”

During the Q&A, Walliams was also asked by an audience member about his departure from Britain’s Got Talent.

“Ask me again when you’re 18 years old, and you’ll find out the answer,” he responded.

The Come Fly with Me star left his position as a judge on the popular ITV reality series back in January, after derogatory comments he allegedly made about contestants offcamera were leaked to The Guardian.

Walliams pictured in 2020
Walliams pictured in 2020 (Getty Images)

Walliams issued an apology 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.”

Last month, it was reported that Walliams was suing the production company behind Britain’s Got Talent, FremantleMedia.

At the end of the talk, Walliams awarded the child who had asked the Britain’s Got Talent-related question a themed promotional standee, the prize for the best question of the afternoon.

“I think you may have been put up to it by a parent,” he quipped.

Henley Literary Festival continues until 8 October.

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