NTAs: Host David Walliams cracks brutal Laurence Fox joke

Roisin O'Connor
David Walliams attends the London auditions of "Britain's Got Talent" at Dominion Theater: Getty Images

David Walliams cracked a joke about Laurence Fox during his opening monologue at the 2020 National Television Awards.

The Britain’s Got Talent judge, who replaced Dermot O’Leary as the presenter of this year’s ceremony, appeared at London’s O2 Arena where he addressed an audience of TV stars.

“You guys are the real stars, by which I mean you’re miles away from Earth,” he began. “But without you, us lot down here would be nothing. I mean, I’ll be fine, I’ve got my bestselling children’s books.”

He then joked: “[TV audience’s] diaries would be emptier than Laurence Fox’s.”

Fox was both condemned and ridiculed after a controversial appearance on BBC Question Time where he told academic Rachel Boyle: “It’s so easy to just throw your charge of racism at everybody and it’s starting to get boring now.”

When Boyle, who was a member of the audience, told Fox he was a “white privileged male”, Fox responded: “I can’t help what I am. I was born like this – it’s an immutable characteristc, so to call me a white privileged male is to be racist – you’re being racist.”

Among those to criticise him for his remarks was actor Maxine Peake, who tweeted: “Posh actors only complain when they want attention.”

Shortly after his Question Time appearance, Fox apologised for referring to the portrayal of Sikh soldiers in Sam Mendes’ film 1917 as an “oddness in the casting”.

“It’s very heightened awareness of the colour of someone’s skin because of the oddness in the casting,” he said on the James Delingpole podcast. “Even in 1917 they’ve done it with a Sikh soldier, which is great, it’s brilliant, but you’re suddenly aware that there were Sikhs fighting in this war. And you’re like, ‘OK, you’re now diverting me away from what the story is.’”

Around 130,000 Sikh men took part in the First World War, making up 20 per cent of the British Indian Army, according to the WW1 Sikh Memorial Fund.

“Fellow humans who are Sikhs, I am as moved by the sacrifices your relatives made as I am by the loss of all those who died in war, whatever creed or colour,” Fox tweeted.

“Please accept my apology for being clumsy in the way I expressed myself.”

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