David Walliams has reportedly quit Britain’s Got Talent after 10 years on the judging panel.
The comedian, 51, is set to leave the ITV show ahead of its 2023 series, weeks after he was forced to apologise for describing an elderly contestant as a ‘c***’ and making vile sexual remarks about a woman taking part.
It’s thought that show bosses are already lining up a replacement before filming commences next year.
A source told The Sun: ‘He hasn’t taken the decision lightly, but it just feels like time to move on.’
‘David has decided to bow out after a ten-year run. He wants to leave on a high after a wonderful time.
‘His team have quietly been having conversations over the past few days where it has been made clear that David is readying himself to step down – and then producers will start to think about who might replace him.’
It comes as David’s co-stars, Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon are in negotiations for their 2023 contracts. None of them have signed a deal yet.
A BGT source told MailOnline: ‘It’s still very much up in the air at the moment on whether David is going to take part in next year’s show. No decision, though, has been made as yet.’
A spokesperson for Britain’s Got Talent said: ‘The judging panel for Britain’s Got Talent 2023 will be announced in due course.’
MailOnline has contacted representatives for David Walliams for further comment.
Oti Mabuse is reportedly being considered as a replacement for David, with bosses of the reality programme discussing how the former professional dancer on BBC’s Strictly would be perfect for the role.
She is currently at the centre of a tug of war between ITV and the BBC, who both want her to star on their shows because of her overwhelming popularity.
A television insider told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Oti’s name is in the frame. She is being touted as the perfect replacement for Walliams if ITV decide not to take him back.
‘There are multiple conversations taking place as negotiations are currently taking place but Oti is a clear route many involved in BGT want to take. They think she would be perfect.’
Oti made her debut as a television judge on another of Simon Cowell’s programmes, The Greatest Dancer, in 2018 and he grew very fond of her.
After she quit Strictly last year, the South African dancer was poached by ITV to be on the judging panel of their skating competition, Dancing On Ice. They also made her the presenter of her own dating show, Romeo And Duet.
But the BBC then took her back for a new quiz show, The Tower, which she has recently filmed for the broadcaster.
David’s future on BGT was in doubt after he described an elderly contestant as a c*** and made vile sexual remarks about a female who was also competing on the show.
The comments, made in January 2020 during auditions at the London Palladium, were picked up on the programme’s microphones and revealed earlier this month.
In one incident, picked up on the show’s microphones, an older performer engaged in light-hearted banter with the judges in which he made a jibe about Walliams, an expose by The Guardian claimed.
After the audition, the pensioner left, after which Walliams is said to have described him as a ‘c**t’ three times.
In a separate incident, after a female contestant had walked off stage, Walliams remarked: ‘She’s like the slightly boring girl you meet in the pub that thinks you want to f*** them, but you don’t.’ He later added: ‘I know, she’s just like: ‘Oh, f*** off!’ I was saying, she thinks you want to f*** her, but you don’t.
‘It’s the last thing on your mind, but she’s like: ‘Yep, I bet you do!’
‘No I don’t! I had a bit of a b***r, but now it’s going, it’s now shrivelled up inside my body.’
Sources close to BGT said that David’s return was ‘very much under threat’ and he was ‘under the microscope’, with some senior staff saying that he should be immediately axed.
One source said: ‘This could not have come at a worse time in terms of his return to BGT, the discussions are going on right now so David’s remarks have now become a huge part of the conversation.
‘He hasn’t signed any deal yet which has come as a relief because now there are options. It is a family show and this isn’t just a negative thing to happen, it is offensive to people.
‘It has left David in a very precarious position. There are some people involved in the show who point blank don’t want him back, there is a danger of this incident becoming part of the BGT narrative and nobody wants that. It’s a lovely show that brings so much joy.
‘Some are saying that David’s return is now highly unlikely.’
In a statement to The Guardian, the Little Britain star said: ‘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.’
A spokesman for ITV said: ‘We do not condone the language outlined in these allegations and we have spoken to the producers of Britain’s Got Talent.
‘Duty of care towards all participants on any of our programmes is always of paramount importance and we have protocols and guidelines in place for all our production partners.’
Meanwhile, sources at the London-based production company Thames said that they have provided enhanced training and education for BGT judges about their language and enhanced respect for contestants.
A spokesman said: ‘Although relating to a private conversation almost three years ago, the language used was inappropriate.
‘Even though it was private, those involved have been spoken to and reminded of their responsibilities and the show’s expectations as to future professional conduct.’