British comedian David Walliams was so hellbent on being the Down Under version of Simon Cowell on Australia's Got Talent that it left the cast and crew "uncomfortable", a production insider spills to Woman's Day!
David, 51, who's well known for creating a bevy of quirky characters on comedy sketch show Little Britain, was fixated on sitting in the boss' chair on the Seven talent show reboot, which filmed earlier this year.
The funnyman's commitment to "lean into the characteristics of the tough judge" is said to have left his fellow judges, Shane Jacobson, Alesha Dixon and Kate Ritchie, in a very awkward situation, with insiders insisting they were "unsure of how to approach him".
"It was at times uncomfortable for performers and also made the production crew a little intimidated," says the insider. "He kept saying to the other judges, 'This is the top seat,' making sure they all knew there was a level of authority based on where you were sitting."
The source is quick to add that off-screen David was a delight, but as soon as the cameras began rolling, it was as if he "morphed" into Simon.
"It was obviously a very noticeable impersonation, but no one felt comfortable asking him outright," the spy reveals.
"It left Shane and Kate, who hadn't worked with David before, uneasy about how to handle him."
Shane, 52, was said to have spent a whole day sightseeing around Sydney with David, and the Aussie comic was overheard saying that he "couldn't have been more different".
David has been working alongside Simon on Britain's Got Talent for 10 years, with the star making no secret of how much he looks up to the 63-year-old music entrepreneur.
And from day one on the set of AGT, this was glaringly obvious, with David at times "making it feel like it was Simon himself in the room".
The insider reveals that all four judges were told to "play their parts", but says "David really took it the most to heart".
David was a late addition to the AGT cast, replacing actor Neil Patrick Harris after he was no longer available to shoot the show's postponed dates due to COVID-19.
The show's original judges, Shane, Kate, 44, and Alesha, 44, are said to have delighted executives at Seven – with their contracts all but renewed for 2023, however David still has a question mark over his name.
"Seven is going to wait and see how viewers respond to him," says the insider.
"If audiences like his acerbic feedback, they'll get him back. But there were lots of people who were really sad that Neil couldn't make it, and he's obviously a huge coup, so if David flunks, they'll make a play at getting Neil back."