The UK’s most talked about TV show, The X Factor, is back.
And this year’s series sees the return of some favourite faces as rock royalty Sharon Osbourne, pop sensation Nicole Scherzinger, chart maestro Louis Walsh and The X Factor creator and music mogul Simon Cowell are reunited on the judging panel.
Simon Cowell has revealed his thoughts on the new series, and what the new judging line up is really like, as well as why he hired Rylan Clark-Neal.
How are you feeling about the judging panel now you’ve filmed the auditions?
Me and Louis have a relationship that goes back a long way. Louis’ naughty, the auditions are long days but he makes it much more fun. I was actually thinking that about all of them actually, it’s like a little reunion, they are all on great form.
Me and Sharon are a bit like Tom and Jerry, but we love each other secretly, and Nicole is slightly nuts, I love that. Then there’s Dermot, I missed him so much.
It’s all change this year…
The good thing about having a Twitter account is they [viewers] tell you what they think, it’s a bit like your mum and dad when they go, ‘Simon, you have screwed up’.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault, I just didn’t realise how much the viewers missed everyone. In a strange way, that’s what I learnt, so this line-up was the easiest decision we have ever made, there was no speculation, it was just this is who’s going to be on the show.
You’ve had a love/hate relationship with Sharon in the past, where are you guys
We’re more love/love at the moment. I’ve missed Sharon. I see the effect she has on contestants when they walk in the room. They love her. That’s the good thing when you make a show like this, you might make a year where people go, ‘I don’t like this so much’, but it’s very easy to change it around again.
Sharon is unique, she’s got a very strong opinion, she’s got a very strange sense of humour, you can’t move her when she’s stuck on something, but I do believe that when she likes somebody, she really likes them, and that’s what the show is about.
How is it having Dermot back?
He came to see me in LA about three months ago and I hadn’t seen him for a while. I was so happy to see him, I think he thought it was going to be an awkward conversation. I just said, ‘There’s nothing to be awkward about, I should have phoned you, you should have phoned me, everyone misses you so come back’.
That was it and I think it’s been good in a way because I think you can take him for granted. I think Olly and Caroline did a great job but the public relate this show to Dermot, so now he’s back, and even I look at him in the clips and think, ‘God, he’s so good!’.
You like contestants to be naughty and one crashed onto set, what did you think
That was brilliant! She had had enough of waiting. For whatever reason she wasn’t going to get in front of us to audition that day but she was fantastic because she found her way through the back of the stage, got in front of us and that’s exactly the sort of person I like working with, someone who’s a bit naughty and breaks the rules.
What can you tease about the live shows?
We’re going to make a couple of changes to the live shows. There will be one feature that we’ve been talking about for a while which I am excited about. It’s going to make the shows more fun. All will be revealed soon, it’s good!
Are you proud though that the national conversation is always about The X
Factor rather than other shows?
Yeah, it’s like when people were speculating whether the show would go off air, that was never even a consideration because the show is on air for nearly five months. It always gets high numbers. It’s a show that you have strong opinions about, you either love it or hate it but you do talk about it. When people aren’t talking about you, by the way, then it’s over. So that’s what I am conscious about.
What I do like about this world that we live in is that there are so many people who do talk to you, you can get a really quick consensus online about whether you are doing something wrong or right.
Rylan’s on Xtra, how did that come about?
I missed the year he was on the show so I don’t know him that well. I’ve met him but everyone wanted him on the show, I mean everyone. Literally, Louis is obsessed with him. He talked to me more about Rylan coming on the show than he did about himself returning.
So I don’t know what he’s done to Louis but he wanted him, he got him, it’s going to be fun. I think the combination of him and Matt is going to be interesting, what I basically said is, ‘You make the show you want to make.’ I’m excited.
The X Factor returns on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th August at 8pm on ITV.