David Walliams had ‘suicidal thoughts’ after Britain’s Got Talent leaked recordings, court documents claim

The comedian and author is suing the producers of the ITV talent show, claiming his private conversations were being recorded, transcribed and retained over the course of a decade

Ellie Harrison
Monday 09 October 2023 06:37 BST
Why is David Walliams suing Britain's Got Talent bosses?

David Walliams has had suicidal thoughts since being dropped from Britain’s Got Talent, court papers have reportedly revealed.

In November 2022, it emerged that the comedian and author, 52, had made sexually explicit and derogatory remarks about some of the contestants on the ITV talent show, during a recording at the London Palladium in January 2020.

The remarks were picked up by microphones placed on the desks by producers in order to hear the conversations between judges after each audition.

Walliams apologised for the comments 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.”

He then officially exited the ITV talent show in January 2023 and former Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli was announced as Walliams’s replacement.

In September, it was revealed that Walliams is suing FremantleMedia, the production company that makes BGT.

Now, The Sun has seen High Court papers in which Walliams claims he has been having “active suicidal thoughts” since leaving the show, and has “lost the ability to be funny” due to fears about his comments being leaked without his consent.

The lawsuit details how Walliams has suffered “a return of severe depression, including suicidal thoughts”.

In a report, consultant psychiatrist Dr Mark Collins, who has treated Walliams for years, said the comedian’s depression was “possibly the worst since I first met him”.

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He said the leak of the transcripts “has had a profound, severe and, at times, very worrying effect on his mental health”.

Walliams has “severe problems with his sleep” and “is plagued by uncontrollable negative thoughts”, including “active suicidal thoughts”.

Walliams attending ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ at the London Palladium in 2020 (Getty Images)

Walliams also reportedly accuses Fremantle of recording, transcribing and retaining private conversations for a decade.

According to the paper, he alleges that, without his knowledge at the time, his microphone was kept on and recorded throughout the entire day during filming, including when he went to the bathroom.

However, reports in 2018, of BGT host Stephen Mulhern talking about how judges’ conversations would all be recorded, appear to contradict the notion that Walliams would not have been aware.

Walliams alleges that Fremantle produced and retained transcripts of the audio recordings, which included conversations about his marriage, sex life and family.

Walliams is reportedly seeking £1m earnings he would have received from Britain’s Got Talent, as well as £1.7m in lost earnings and £3.4m covering future losses for at least two years, bringing the total damages sought to £6.1m.

Fremantle told The Independent: “We had a long and productive relationship with David and so are surprised and saddened by this legal action.

“For our part, we remain available and open to dialogue to resolve this matter amicably.

“However, in the interim, we will examine the various allegations and are prepared to robustly defend ourselves if necessary.”

The Independent has contacted Walliams’ representatives for comment.

In the leaked recordings from the set of BGT, Walliams called one contestant “the slightly boring girl you meet in the pub that thinks you want to f*** them, but you don’t”.

He said: “She thinks you want to f*** her, but you don’t. It’s the last thing on your mind, but she’s like, ‘Yep, I bet you do!’ ‘No, I don’t!’ I had a bit of a boner, but now it’s going, it’s now shrivelled up inside my body.”

Walliams also called a pensioner, who was auditioning, a “c***” three times while the man was walking off stage. The contestant had poked lighthearted fun at Walliams during his routine.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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