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Britain’s Got Talent sparks fury after ‘inappropriate’ prank involving Simon Cowell and Bruno Tonioli

BRITAIN’S Got Talent has sparked anger with a crossbow prank that saw Simon Cowell “shot” on stage.

Blindfolded new judge Bruno Tonioli fired the weapon and was tricked into thinking he hit Cowell in ­Salford, Gtr Manchester.

Genuine crossbow attack victim Laura Sugden said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful.”

A woman wounded in a crossbow attack that killed her partner has blasted a Britain’s Got Talent prank involving the weapon saying: “It’s no joke”.

Laura Sugden added: “I can’t believe it’s even allowed on the show. It’s not regulated, but it’s a lethal weapon.

“I’ve been in a situation where I’ve lost somebody. For Britain’s Got Talent to showcase that as a prank I just find really disrespectful.

“There will be people watching who lost loved ones through such a dangerous weapon. I can’t comprehend how anyone would find it funny.”

BGT judge Bruno Tonioli was fooled into thinking he had shot dead show supremo Simon Cowell on stage in front of a live audience.

In the lead-up to Cowell’s prank an act had been performing a routine of shooting balloons.

It involved one of them trying to hit balloons on the head of another performer without hurting them.

Cowell and Bruno then appeared on stage, with the audience assuming they would perform the same routine.

A blindfold was put on Bruno who was told to fire the weapon.

But he had no idea that Cowell was going to pretend he had been shot by him.

Show staff rigged up Cowell so a crossbow arrow was sticking out of his chest.

He lay on the floor playing dead and a paramedic rushed to his aid in front of a live audience last month at The Lowry Theatre, in Salford, Gtr Manchester.

A TikTok video filmed by an audience member shows the crowd screaming and comes with a “sensitive content” warning.

It is understood producers are now in crisis talks over whether to axe it from the ITV series.

Laura, 30, added: “If they show that on the show — and I’ve always watched Britain’s Got Talent — I wouldn’t watch it again. It’s absolutley disgraceful.”

She and partner Shane Gilmer were shot with a crossbow by crazed neighbour Anthony Lawrence at their home near Driffield, East Yorks. in 2018.

Shane, 30, was killed and Laura, who was pregnant at the time, was shot in the head.

Lawrence, 55, was himself found dead days later.

Bruno told pals he didn’t know straight away that the BGT incident was a stunt — and he felt it was “inappropriate”.

A source said “The explosive prank was really effective and Bruno completely fell for it, believing for a few seconds he had he had shot Simon.

“He was genuinely panicked and for a moment really thought something had gone badly wrong.

“Despite it making amazing TV, Bruno felt it was too over the top and inappropriate.

“He said it felt wrong in light of the death of Halyna Hutchins on the Alec Baldwin film set in 2021.”

Baldwin faces two involuntary manslaughter charges after firing the gun that resulted in the cinematographer’s death on the set of his movie Rust.

The source added: “It will be difficult for the viewers not to draw comparisons and some people will see it as exploitative and in very bad taste.”

Show presenter Ant McPartlin was said to have blindfolded Bruno before the stunt, causing the ex-Strictly star to playfully punch him.

Cowell filmed a similar crossbow prank on America’s Got Talent in 2021 with actress Sofia Vergara.

She was blindfolded and fooled into thinking she had fired a crossbow arrow into Simon’s chest.

She was filmed removing her blindfold and staring at him on the floor in disbelief — before he looked up and said: “I got you!”

Some viewers viewers reacted in fury on social media and said the stunt was not funny.

John Bingham, president of the National Crossbow Federation, said: “Crossbows are safe when used responsibly. Irresponsible use of any piece of equipment is dangerous and not to be condoned.

“Tricking someone into believing they could have seriously injured, or killed, another person is reckless at best, irresponsible, and might be considered illegal taking into account the possible psychological effect on the person being ‘japed’.”

A BGT source said: “This is a light-hearted skit in the show between the judges – and not meant to cause any offence at all.”

We approached ITV for comment.