The former Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli has been announced as David Walliams’ replacement on Britain’s Got Talent.
The Italian choreographer and dancer joins the ITV talent show’s judging panel alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon.
It comes after the Guardian reported in November that Walliams, 51, had been recorded making derogatory and sexually explicit remarks about the show’s contestants.
Tonioli, 67, said: “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.”
Walliams had been part of the judging lineup since 2012 but his position came into question after the Guardian saw a leaked transcript of the offensive comments made during an audition show at the London Palladium.
The television personality and children’s author referred to one contestant as a “cunt” and said of another: “She thinks you want to fuck her, but you don’t.”
At the time, he 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.”
On Tuesday, the first round of auditions returned to the London Palladium after weeks of speculation that Tonioli would be replacing Walliams on the panel.
The co-hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly were pictured entering the London theatre on Tuesday alongside Cowell, creator of Britain’s Got Talent.
Tonioli was previously a fan favourite on Strictly Come Dancing after joining the BBC One programme in 2004. However, in 2022 it was announced he would be leaving the celebrity dancing competition because his travel commitments had made it impossible to continue.
In 2020, pandemic travel uncertainty meant Tonioli could only appear over video link to give his verdict on the Strictly performances during the Sunday night results show.
Then, in 2021, he was replaced by the longstanding professional dancer Anton Du Beke, who joined the panel alongside Craig Revel Horwood, Motsi Mabuse and Shirley Ballas.