Richard Madeley has called out Britain’s Got Talent for leaking audio of David Walliams making “disrespectful” off-camera remarks about contestants.
On Monday (27 November), the ITV talent show’s production company Fremantle agreed a settlement with the former judge, who appeared on the series between 2012 and 2022, after Walliams sued for misuse of private information.
Madeley shared his support of Walliams on Tuesday’s episode of Good Morning Britain, telling co-host Susanna Reid: “Can I just say: I miss David Walliams on television. I miss him. He was an incredibly entertaining character on Britain’s Got Talent and all of the other things he did.”
While Reid pointed out that Walliams used ”thoroughly unpleasant language” while discussing the show’s contestants, Madeley called the audio leak a “breach of privacy”, and, alongside the episode’s panellists, wondered whether it had occurred in an attempt to “undermine” the Little Britain star. “They punished him,” Madeley added.
When the transcripts of the “private conversations” were leaked in November 2022, the TV personality and children’s book author shared a statement of apology to 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,” he said. “These were private conversations and – like most conversations with friends – were never intended to be shared. Nevertheless, I am sorry.”
Madeley addressed the apology, stating: “To be fair to David Walliams, he did apologise for making those comments, fulsomely, when they were leaked, and he held his hands up and said sorry.”
On Monday, a Fremantle spokesperson apologised for “the great distress” the audio leak “caused” Walliams.
“We have reviewed our production practices on the show to ensure they fully respect the expectations of our talent whilst satisfying the requirements of the show. We have enjoyed a great relationship with David over many years.
“We thank David for being an important part of the Britain’s Got Talent family and the enduring success of the show and hope to have opportunities to work with him in the future. We are pleased that we have achieved an amicable resolution of this dispute with David.”
In the lawsuit, Walliams claimed that Fremantle had caused him psychiatric harm and financial loss. The 52-year-old claimed that he had 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 also detailed 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”.
Collins said the leak of the transcripts “has had a profound, severe and, at times, very worrying effect on his mental health”.
Walliams was replaced on the judging panel by former Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli.
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.