Simon Cowell gets a grilling from David Walliams

They spend their time criticising others on Britain's Got Talent, but what happens when the tables are turned?

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Why was I voted TV’s favourite judge?

Simon Cowell Firstly, I was watching Recount the other night, the film about whether the Bush/Gore election result was legitimate… My point is, I believe if we did a recount, I would have won. Secondly, you spent at least six months on your – admittedly, much smaller than mine – Twitter account begging for votes, that repetition obviously worked. Thirdly, we just did some minute-by-minute research on the show and – this is deadly serious – the less we show you and the more we show me, the numbers go up.

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David Walliams And yet I was favourite at the National Televisions Awards, and when a daily newspaper did another poll of favourite judges – just for BGT – I still won by a huge margin. 


Who’s the best judge you’ve worked with?

Simon OK – let me do it in order: Cheryl [Fernandez-Versini]…

David Is Cheryl number one because you fancy her?

Simon You’re the one who fancies her! Have you ever hit on her?

David No. Well, kind of… years ago, when Girls Aloud were starting out, I asked Louis [Walsh] if any of them were single. He called a meeting with all of them and said, “Do any of you want to go out with David Walliams?” They all said no! So she’s coming back on X Factor, you’re coming back… what about Louis?

Simon Louis is a great friend and a brilliant judge but we really still haven’t made any final decisions. And just to be clear, when they say, “Cowell wields axe!” I’m not the only one making the decision – there’s about 30 people involved.

David No, you make the decision then you ask someone else to give the person the bad news. You know, when you do these shake-ups, do you ever think maybe you should get rid of yourself?

Simon No. 


Do you regret hiring me?

Simon Yes, actually! You’re quite annoying…

David Me!

Simon I’ve seen a huge change in you, particularly this year, compared to when we first met. The first few days on the panel you were very quiet and kept nodding your head. It was the weirdest thing. You were just sitting there… I remember thinking, “Do I say anything or not?” And then I realised, because I saw your hand shaking, that you were nervous, and it was kind of sweet and innocent. Now four years later, I’m sitting next to a monster.

David Of your own creation! 


Why did you hire me?

Simon I hired you – we hired you – because a lot of the people on our show reminded me of Little Britain. There was a bell-ringer – do you remember the guy with his wife? And I thought, “He looks like David Walliams.” Then I met you and you told me how much you liked the show… But you weren’t interested at first!

David Well, I loved the show but wasn’t sure I’d be any good at judging. The hard thing is, you think, “Can I actually judge others? Can I sit there and press the buzzer when they’re not good? Can I say no to people?” But actually…

Simon You took to it like a duck to water! I had a meeting with you the year before you actually came on the show. Now I’ve had some bad meetings in my life but that was one of the most uncomfortable. It ended really badly. Do you remember that? Were you being deliberately…

David I think I was just shy… You’d just been on X Factor… And there were so many other people there in the room…

Simon They all left eventually, David, if you remember. It was just me and you at the end.

David I really wasn’t sure about joining, to be honest… but now I’m so pleased that I did!


What’s been your biggest error of judgement?

Simon I don’t think there have been…

David Didn’t you pass on Take That?

Simon Yes, I did… I was going to say that. I was just starting my record label and I remember this guy came into my office and played me the songs, and I said no.

David Which song?

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Simon It could have been A Million Love Songs… And then about two months late I started to see them written about in all the teen magazines, which in those days were important, so I called the manager and apologised, and I said, “Actually I’ve changed my mind, I will sign them.” And he just said, “It’s too late.” And that was that. It was a stupid mistake. It was pretty bad when they exploded… but it happens.