Fall­ing for X ap­peal

Natalie Im­bruglia has her fin­gers crossed The X Fac­tor will be back next year, writes Ross Brun­drett

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

THE fi­nal­ists on The X Fac­tor aren’t the only ones cross­ing their fin­gers and hop­ing for the best . . . so is judge and men­tor Natalie Im­bruglia.

‘‘ I’d love to come back and do this again next year. I’d so love that,’’ Im­bruglia says.

‘‘ I’d love to split my time be­tween here and the UK. It would be an ab­so­lute dream.’’

For that to hap­pen the show, an ex­pen­sive gam­ble for Seven, will have to be picked up for an­other year — some­thing yet to be de­cided.

Ques­tion marks have been hov­er­ing over the show since Matthew Newton’s dra­matic exit as host just days be­fore the launch, but Im­bruglia is loath to think the con­tro­versy af­fected the show in any last­ing way.

‘‘ Not at all. It was re­ported on a lot but it didn’t af­fect the show . . . I think it’s the kind of show that peo­ple take a while to get in­volved in, that’s just the na­ture of it,’’ she says.

Time was needed, she says, for the au­di­ence to align not only with the con­tes­tants, but also with the judges, who in­clude Ro­nan Keat­ing, Guy Se­bas­tian and Kyle Sandi­lands, of whom Im­bruglia says in­clu­sively, ‘‘ we’re all good friends’’.

‘‘ I even sent him (Kyle) flow­ers when he was sick, though it did take him four days to say thank you,’’ she says with a curl of her lips.

But she prom­ises there are no back­room sto­ries of bitch­i­ness a la the Bri­tish ver­sion where Sharon Os­bourne and our Dan­nii Minogue fa­mously feuded.

‘‘ No, any bitch­i­ness we have is hap­pen­ing on cam­era,’’ she says with a laugh, be­fore putting on her se­ri­ous face. ‘‘ I don’t like it when the other judges come down hard on my girls. I take it re­ally per­son­ally.’’

It’s the men­tor­ing job with con­tes­tants (she has un­der-25 fe­males) which Im­bruglia has en­joyed the most, sur­pris­ing even her­self with her mother hen in­stincts. ‘‘ It is full-on, there’s a lot of ex­tra hours the judges are putting in— or most of us are— but I’ve learnt a few lessons along the way. I got too close early on so I stopped that and there’s a healthy dis­tance there, but the girls know I’m there for them.’’

She says that if she was start­ing out in her ca­reer she prob­a­bly wouldn’t have made it past the first au­di­tions for X. ‘‘ They (the con­tes­tants) are un­der a lot of pres­sure and have to turn around things quickly. I don’t like be­ing told what to do so I wouldn’t have made it.’’

As for the role that The X Fac­tor fills, Im­bruglia says it is a ‘‘ valid plat­form’’ not just for new tal­ent, but for peo­ple in the in­dus­try. ‘‘ It’s hard out there for artists . . . there are not a lot of shows and this ba­si­cally is an old-fash­ioned va­ri­ety show, we give per­form­ers the chance to come on as guests . . . I mean it’s a soap as well . . . it works on a lot of lev­els. I know some peo­ple still frown at it, but I have a dif­fer­ent opin­ion,’’ she says.

‘‘ I def­i­nitely think, as far as it be­ing the first year of the show, I think Aus­tralia has done an in­cred­i­ble job and I know that Simon (Cowell, the show’s cre­ator) thinks that. I watched the show with him in the UK when we had a month off and he was im­pressed.’’

Im­bruglia re­mains hope­ful the show will re­turn. ‘‘ I have a good feel­ing about it. I haven’t been asked though (to re­turn), I haven’t been told any­thing . . . do you know some­thing I don’t?’’ The X Fac­tor, Chan­nel 7, Sun­day and Mon­day, 7.30pm. Lessons: Natalie Im­bruglia loves her men­tor­ing role.

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