Simon Cowell is in tug of war with ITV over new Britain’s Got Talent judge to replace David Walliams

  • Cowell and ITV are battling over who should replace David Walliams on BGT
  • It is understood that ITV wants Alan Carr, while Cowell wants Bruno Tonioli 
  • At one point, Carr thought he had the job inside this ‘chaotic’ briefing war

Simon Cowell and ITV bosses are locked in a behind-the-scenes battle over whether Alan Carr or Bruno Tonioli should be the new judge on Britain’s Got Talent, it can be revealed.

The tussle has turned into a ‘chaotic’ briefing war as music mogul Cowell, who launched the show 15 years ago, tries to influence the decision on who replaces David Walliams.

The Daily Mail understands that, at the centre of the issue, ITV wants Carr while Simon Cowell wants to hand the role to his long-time friend Tonioli, 67.

It can also today be revealed that comedian Carr thought he had the job – and had even begun making arrangements for his on-screen clothing – until he saw reports that the former Strictly judge was also in line to take over from Walliams.

David Walliams was last year forced to leave the show after ten years following vile remarks he made about contestants during auditions in 2020

The shamed actor and children’s author was last year forced to leave the show after ten years following vile remarks he made about contestants during auditions in 2020. Carr, famous for his much-loved Channel 4 show Alan Carr: Chatty Man, was also allegedly changing the dates of his filming commitments on BBC show Ru Paul’s Drag Race so he could be at the BGT auditions. Meanwhile, Tonioli has told his closest friends that he has not heard from either ITV or Cowell.

Sources close to the show – which begins filming its next round of auditions next Tuesday – also wonder if Cowell is playing ‘mind games’ with the two contenders, something he was known for on the now-defunct X Factor.

The Daily Mail understands that, at the centre of the issue, ITV wants  Alan Carr (pictured) as the new judge while Simon Cowell wants to hand the role to his long-time friend Bruno Tonioli

Comedian Carr (right) thought he had the job – and had even begun making arrangements for his on-screen clothing – until he saw reports that the former Strictly judge was also in line to take over from Walliams

Judges such as Dannii Minogue, Cheryl Tweedy and Sharon Osbourne would clear their diaries for months while the music mogul would decide who he wanted to sign up.

They also suggest there have been briefing wars between the two men to see which one gets the better reaction on social media. Carr, 46, has so far received a much better reception than Tonioli, who still hosts Dancing With The Stars, the US version of Strictly.

Bruno Tonioli. who is being considered for the role, still hosts Dancing With The Stars, the US version of Strictly

One source told the Mail: ‘It all appears to be very chaotic. Alan thought the job was his, as did those close to him, until he saw reports to the contrary. He was approached and came home from his holiday to have meetings.

‘Then out of the blue it is briefed from the show that Bruno is in the running too. But then this is what Simon does. Back in the X Factor days Dannii, Cheryl, Sharon and many others wouldn’t know if they had the job until a few days before. Some call it mind games. He’s the best in the business at getting his shows talked about.’

The Mail revealed last week that Carr was set to replace Walliams, prompting a briefing from senior sources at BGT that Tonioli was also in the running. It was reported in November that Walliams, 51, stood down from his role, although sources close to the show say he ‘jumped before he was pushed’.

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