Pop Idol judges Simon Cowell and Pete Waterman had their knuckles rapped by TV boss Nigel Lythgoe today over an on-screen bust-up.
The pair have been told their behaviour will not be tolerated after they sparred during a live heat of the show on Saturday night.
But executive producer Lythgoe - who found fame as Nasty Nigel when he judged earlier telly talent search Popstars - gave them a roasting for their outbursts.
Cowell has earned himself a reputation for cruel comments to contestants and laid into Darius Danesh on Saturday saying his version of Let’s Face The Music and Dance was the worst performance of the evening.
Waterman hit back: ‘‘You must have something in your ears, mate, because that was as close as I’ve ever heard to Nat King Cole in my life.’’
He later accused his fellow judge of being ageist because Darius Danesh was one of the older competitors.
Cowell hit back: ‘‘If you think what I said was about his age, you are talking b******s. If you don’t think I’m allowed an opinion, we won’t even bother turning up.’’
Lythgoe stepped in today to warn Cowell and Waterman about their attitudes.
He said: ‘‘Their argument in last Saturday’s show went too far and is unacceptable on any future shows.
‘‘I reminded them that the talent was appearing in front of them and they should not hijack the show with their own petty quarrels
‘‘Frankly I’m disappointed that Simon couldn’t take Pete’s criticism, having dished out so much himself.
‘‘It looks like he can give it but not take it.
‘‘The pair of them acted like a slightly senile bickering old couple who didn't have enough courage to get divorced 20 years ago.
Just four contestants are left in the competition which will land one pop wannabe with a lucrative record deal.
The series of Pop Idol could be rounded off with a show in which real pop acts could be competing, Cowell has revealed.
In Heat magazine, published tomorrow, he says programme makers were lining up a celebrity programme.
‘‘It is being planned but I don’t know the details yet. I’d like to see people who normally wouldn’t be seen doing this kind of thing,’’ he says.
‘‘I think soap stars singing is just not interesting - they would just be using it as an opportunity to prove they can sing. What would be good would be to see somebody out of context.’’