Gay Britain’s Got Talent judge Bruno Tonioli is a gift that keeps on giving – what you need to know

Bruno Tonioli

Out gay British-Italian TV personality and choreographer Bruno Tonioli has become a household name in recent years thanks to his appearances on multiple reality TV judging panels.

The vibrant 68-year-old is known for his passionate outbursts and opinions; his love for dance, music and talent in general exploding from every pore.

He came out as gay in his youth and has since spoken about being subjected to homophobic bullying. These days, he’s a proud, successful and highly visible LGBTQ+ superstar.

Bruno Tonioli has been growing increasingly popular as he’s made a name for himself across Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and Dancing With The Stars USA. Let’s find out more about him.

What is Bruno Tonioli famous for?

Tonioli got his start on Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, a show he was a judge on for an impressive 18 years. 

In 2022, he stepped down from the hugely popular BBC dance competition, saying having to travel between the UK and the US every week was causing exhaustion. 

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Initially, Tonioli was a dancer before he moved on to become a successful choreographer.

He has worked on a number of films, plays, music videos, concerts and television series as a choreographer. He’s worked with the likes of Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury, Tina Turner and Paul McCartney. 

In 2023, Tonioli announced that he would be joining the Britain’s Got Talent judging panel, replacing David Walliams.

Bruno’s golden buzzer mishaps

On his first day as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, Tonioli wreaked havoc with the golden buzzer, a button judges press to accelerate contestants to the live shows.

Tonioli, seemingly unaware of the rules of the show, pressed the golden buzzer in the middle of the Ugandan dance group Ghetto Kids’ performance. Judges are supposed to wait until the performance has ended to deliver the glittering golden achievement.

The judge only gets to use the golden button once but, of course not abiding by anyone’s rules, Tonioli hit the button a second time for singer Gamal John.

This had never been done before: Tonioli is a real wild card on the BGT judging panel, yet it still counted and both acts got through to the live shows. 

Then after breaking the rules last year, on Saturday’s (18 May) show, Tonioli slammed the golden buzzer so hard that he damaged and broke the button.

Tonioli got tearful watching Phoenix Boys, a young male dance troupe made up of dancers from across the UK. 

A dancer himself, Tonioli was left deeply emotional, explaining he understood the passion needed to execute their performance.

“People don’t really understand how hard it is to succeed as a dancer, the work that goes into it and the passion,” he remarks. 

He told the dance troupe: “You do it for love and I sensed that.”

As the veteran gay TV presenter left the stage after congratulating the Phoenix Boys, Tonioli received a forehead kiss from Simon Cowell who soothed his tears.

“What really touches people is when you perform from your heart. The truth of your performance, that is what really remains in people’s minds,” he concluded. 

Was Bruno Tonioli in an Elton John video?

Alongside his career judging dancing abiity, Tonioli’s own dance work includes working for incredibly famous names.

One especially notable appearance is in Sir Elton John’s music video for “I’m Still Standing”.

A young Bruno Tonioli can be seen dancing as the lead male dancer in the camp video.

In one moment, he is a hotel concierge dressed in a very tight-fitting one-piece as John sprinkles glitter on him. Later, he’s wearing some very tight red trousers as he hip thrusts on the beach. Iconic!

Who is Bruno Tonioli’s partner?

Tonioli has been in a relationship with model Jason Schanne since 2010.

In 2012, the couple had a commitment ceremony which was attended by a number of celebs.

However, the two have kept their relationship extremely private and Schanne has largely kept out of the spotlight. 

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