Bruno Tonioli dismisses claims of a BGT pay row

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The former Strictly judge brushed off reports of a £850,000 payday as insiders claimed fellow judges Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon are pleased with plans that see him taking home “a bit less” than them.

Bruno said: “It’s very vulgar to talk about money, I never do it. So I don’t know what the girls are getting but they deserve everything they’ve got. They’ve done it for 10 years so good for them.

“There is no frostiness with the girls. Who is frosty? We have been having so much fun.”

Speaking backstage at the London Palladium, he said the job has never been about money: “I do it because I love to do it.

“Amanda and Alesha, we’ve all known each other for years. The first show felt so natural. I’m very, very lucky.”

Bruno, 67, quipped that BGT will be more successful than Strictly: “This is the biggest show – now that I’m in it! I mean it. Oh, Simon [Cowell] is going to hate me saying that.”

He was signed up days before the auditions and said the first person to congratulate him was predecessor David Walliams: “David sent me a text and a fantastic bottle of wine. He’s a very good friend. We worked with each other ages ago.”

Walliams left after remarks about former contestants.

Bruno also claimed there would be no awkwardness over him landing the role ahead of comic Alan Carr.

He added: “This really is a gift. It’s right up my street. I’ve done all the stuff – I’ve acted, I’ve sung, I’ve been in the theatre. I can use every aspect of the past 50 years I’ve been in the business.”

The ITV series is due to air on Saturday nights from April.

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