Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams tells TV Times that while he likes to play fairy godfather not all wishes can be granted…
Do you enjoy being a judge on BGT?
“I love it, but it’s hard. Some contestants come just to have a bit of fun. But others come thinking they’re going to be the next superstar and it’s actually crueller to pretend to them that they are going to be a big success when they’re obviously not.
“You can judge it by the audience reaction. That’s the good thing about having the audience there. If the audience are having a bad time, it’s just not going to work out for the act.
“Some people have an odd sense of entitlement. They say, ‘But it’s my dream’, as if that in itself is justification enough for getting what they want. It’s my dream to win Wimbledon and to go out with Rhianna, but I know those things are unlikely to happen. I accept that some dreams will never come true!”
You’ve got a wicked sense of humour which has proved a hit with your fellow judges, Simon, Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden…
“It helps that we’ve been together on the panel for five years now. I always felt like the new boy, but now I realise I’m the longest serving male judge after Simon – if he counts as male.”
What’s it like to be able to crush Simon’s sizeable ego?
“I get as much fun as ever out of it – although I don’t know if the viewers do! It’s great fun! He’s quite easy to wind up. He takes it in good humour, even though sometimes I see a weariness in his eyes! He thinks of himself as a serious figure. The other day, I tried to do a balloon dance with him, and he told me, ‘I can’t do that – I run a global empire!’
“I thought, ‘Do you really think people see you as a serious person? Who do you think you are? President Obama? You’re just someone off the telly who says mean things to people on talent shows.'”
What’s Simon like to work with?
“He is so competitive about everything. It’s annoying that he is so competitive because he already has something like half a billion pounds. I’d like to have just one more pound than him – that would give me great pleasure!
“Recently he said to me, ‘Whose son is more good looking?’ I replied, ‘My son, but you’re rich, so you can pay for your son to have plastic surgery!'”
You choose some bizarre acts to put through to the next round with the Golden Buzzer. Is this because you know it will wind Simon up?
“On the panel, we all like different things. I like comedians and more eccentric acts. Alesha likes the dance acts. Amanda likes the musical acts. And Simon loves the acts that he thinks he can make a lot of money out of.
“Simon’s really worried whenever I press my golden buzzer because he fears he might end up with a winner who might not make him any money.”
You put through Ian and Anne Marshall to the live semi with your Golden Buzzer this year. Are you happy with your choice?
“Delighted. They are a couple of senior citizens from Belfast who impressed me with their version of Beyoncé’s Crazy In Love. Simon would be worried if they were doing really well in the final!
“There’s something so great and so bonkers about Ian and Anne. They should do Single Ladies next. In fact, I feel like they should do a whole Beyoncé album. Hopefully, it’ll be out in time for Mother’s Day!
“I love the fact that Ian and Anne are real characters and real eccentrics. That’s what I’ve always loved about Britain’s Got Talent. It celebrates eccentricity. That’s such a fun thing to celebrate, and Ian and Anne embody it. I don’t understand why the other judges play it safe with their Golden Buzzer choices – what’s the point? If an act gets a standing ovation, they’ll be fine anyway. For me, the Golden Buzzer is like a wild card. I give it to people who might need a helping hand.”
Your mother recently appeared on the BGT panel. Why was that?
“It was absolutely spontaneous. Simon was not there, so the producers said to me, ‘Do you think your mum would stand in for him?’ When I asked her, she was out there like a shot.
“She was very good as a judge – she was not afraid to say no to people. If you can’t say no as a judge, you might as well not be there. Often none of the judges wants to be the first to press their buzzer, but oh no, my mum was very happy to press her buzzer before everyone else!”
What’s next for you?
“My latest children’s novel, The World’s Worst Children, comes out this month and I’ll soon be recording a full series of his BBC1 sketch show, Walliams & Friend.”
Have you announced any of your guests on the show?
“Not yet. All I will say is that, I’m very lucky to have some great friends in comedy. After the Christmas special of Walliams & Friend went out, my mum said to me, ‘Everyone at church has been going on about how much they liked that show… But there again, people do love Joanna Lumley’. But I was in it, too!”
You’re clearly a man who doesn’t like putting his feet up much…
“Yeah…. After that, I’m working on a TV adaptation of the bestselling children’s novel, Ratburger.”
What about your future as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent?
“Simon likes to change things around and keep us all guessing. It is a thrill to be involved in what’s the biggest show on TV and it’s amazing to be part of it, but you can’t ever take it for granted.
“You never know when the Evil Emperor is going to throw you to the lions. One day I’ll say one thing too far, and that’ll be it. I’ll be the lions’ lunch!”
BGT semi-finals screen on ITV all week except Friday. The final screens on Saturday night