Former Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams has claimed he was spied on for his 10-year run on the show.
In November 2022, leaked jibes aimed at contestants from children’s author and comedian Walliams caused him to leave his post alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon, with Strictly Come Dancing favourite Bruno Tonioli stepping in to replace him.
The 52-year-old is now suing production company Fremantle Media for loss of earnings, psychiatric harm, distress and upset, according to The Sun.
The star’s High Court filing is also said to claim that Fremantle “recorded, transcribed and retained” his private conversations for a whole decade – an illegal data protection breach – amounting to 1,700 hours of audio and 41,526 hours of visual material.
“The Claimant now understands that unknown to him at the time, his microphone was kept on and recording throughout the whole filming day, including breaks, during his whole tenure as a judge on the show,” wrote his lawyers in a 21-page document.
This included every time Walliams visited the bathroom.
Fremantle said on Sunday it was prepared to “robustly defend” itself against the claims.
A copy of the sensitive transcripts was made available to Cowell’s media company, Syco Entertainment, upon request, too.
Walliams’s complaint argues that most of these recordings were private, covering everything from his marriage to divorce, mental health, weight problems, spending sprees, political views and his father’s death.
“He was distraught to learn that private information, including many susceptible personal matters, had been recorded without his consent or knowledge, transcribed, shared internally among the Defendant’s employees and retained indefinitely,” continued the writ.
This alleged violation of privacy has subsequently affected the Little Britain co-creator’s ability to perform.
“He feels vulnerable on entering a studio because he fears that what he says and does in that setting may be recorded and leaked without his consent,” Walliams’ lawyers suggested.
“Because of the constant concern that any unguarded comments could be used against him, he has lost the ability to be spontaneous or edgy — in short, to be funny. His inability to perform in this, his signature manner, has caused him further acute distress because he has lost an important part of his personal and professional identity.”
A Fremantle spokesperson said: “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 defend ourselves if necessary, robustly.”