Britain's Got Talent is back - and as the auditions kick off on Saturday night, David Walliams reveals that Simon Cowell is more than a little jealous that he's Britain's No.1 judge...
David Walliams on how Simon Cowell's more competitive than ever as Britain's Got Talent returns…
The stage is set, those loud, red buzzers are primed and ready, and there are some nervous hopefuls waiting to perform, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for the return of Britain’s Got Talent.
Once again, judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon have been travelling the length and breadth of the UK hoping to uncover all manner of singers, dance troupes, talented pets, death-defying daredevils – and everything in between – for the show's 12th series.
David getting into the spirit of the auditions alongside fellow judges Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and, of course, Simon Cowell
And as the auditions roll into London, TV Times has popped along to the iconic London Palladium to discover what talent our capital city has to offer.
As hosts Ant & Dec come onto the stage and introduce the judges, the crowd goes wild. When Simon congratulates the Geordie duo on winning their 17th National Television award, David reminds everyone about his own NTA win – for Britain's Best TV Judge.
As the judges get comfortable in their seats, now all we need is some talent. And it seems it's going to take a LOT to please Simon today. As he calls one particular act "boring", he's met with a chorus of boos from the crowd. Even Dec emerges sheepishly from backstage wondering if it's safe to continue!
Simon's generally in a mischievous mood, arguing back to the other judges and putting them on the spot with their critique of the acts. But when he tries to tell David off over his enthusiasm for an unusual dance act, David's having none of it and reminds him (again!) that he's "Britain's No.1 Judge!"
As the first crop of pre-recorded auditions air on ITV this weekend, we caught up with "Britain's No.1 Judge", David Walliams, to find out if Britain has STILL got talent…
Why do you still enjoy being a judge on BGT?
"It's just a pleasure to be part of a show that's such a juggernaut of a success. Sometimes the popularity of other shows wanes a bit, but BGT seems to go on and on. You can't believe as a judge you're getting paid because you’ve basically got the best seat in the house and all these people are coming on to entertain you. And when it's great, it's magical."
Congratulations on your NTA win. How many times have you reminded Simon that you're "Britain's No.1 judge"?
"A few times and he doesn't enjoy it because he's very competitive. At the auditions, he's been telling the audience that there's going to be a recount and how it's all a conspiracy. So he doesn't like it especially as judging is what he does – he doesn't do anything else!"
Is Simon begrudgingly congratulating Simon on his NTA win for Britain's Best TV judge?
What's the dynamic been like between the entire panel this year?
"Well, filming long days with four egos, you can start to get on each other's nerves but it's been very harmonious this year and we haven't had any disagreements. Sometimes Simon accuses me of 'stealing his lines'. That's what he gets annoyed about but, I'm the kind of person who, if you tell me not to do something, I'll just do it even more. It's like a showbiz Tourettes!"
What can you tell us about your Golden Buzzer act?
"Well, firstly I can tell you that Simon was quite frustrated because he wanted to press the Golden Buzzer for the same act. I don't want to give too much away but it's a guy who's written this very funny song. At the auditions, we never know what's coming up, so you just have to decide whether to hit the Golden Buzzer in that moment."
Is this the moment David hits the Golden Buzzer for one lucky act?
Do you think you've got the winning Golden Buzzer act?
"I don't know. Simon has turned it into a competition about which judge is going to win but I don't see it that way. I see the Golden Buzzer as being like a 'wildcard' for someone who otherwise might not have got through to the live semi-finals. It's about giving someone that 'Golden Ticket' and them having that lovely moment where the whole stage turns gold and it's euphoric. My guy collapsed onto the floor; in a good way, not a terrible way – he didn't have a heart attack or anything!"
Have there been any acts that have come on and you’ve thought: 'Oh no, not another one of those again'?
"Well, because we've had a few magicians in the semi-finals in recent years, we DO see a lot of magicians now. My heart slightly sinks when they say they're going do magic and they pull out a deck of cards, especially if it's the third or fourth time that day that you've been asked to shuffle a deck of cards. I'm a real party pooper when it comes to magic because I love to try and work out how it's done. I hate being fooled."
We know Simon loves the more dangerous acts. Have you had many of those this year?
"We've had some incredible escapologists and also a man who put dynamite in his mouth. Every time there's a dangerous act, Simon asks them: 'Can you somehow involve David?' He likes the idea of me being in mortal danger and perhaps even dying on live TV. I think he thinks it might be his gift to the world that he's killed me off!"
Do NOT try this at home: David says Simon would love him to get involved in these death-defying acts
What kind of act would you like to see win Britain's Got Talent?
"A comedian's never won, so that would be great. Or a speciality act. Last year, pianist Tokio Myers was a very cool winner; he wasn't the kind of act you'd expect to win BGT but he did and he's brilliant. Performing at Royal Variety is still the pinnacle for a variety act in Britain, so it's a special thing that it's still part of the prize. And the £250,000 is quite nice, too!"
Finally, what does Britain's Got Talent say about Britain?
"It says that there's lots of eccentrics in the country and I think there's something wonderful about celebrating eccentricity. I remember when I first met Simon and he said: 'Our show is the real-life version of your show, Little Britain'. And he’s right. We get such amazing characters on this show, you couldn't write it better. On this show, someone may not necessarily be blessed with talent but still be brilliantly entertaining."
Britain's Got Talent starts on Saturday April 14 at 8pm on ITV.
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