“When people stop talking about you, it’s over”
How do you feel about the judging panel this year?
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.
Louis hasn’t been shy about saying what he thought about last year’s series...
He loved it! What was so funny was that he used to phone me every week, I’d get an hour where he would scream down the phone and I’d be like, ‘Well, stop watching. I can’t help it, it’s not my fault if you don’t like it anymore’. But honest to god, it was a weekly call! It would start about two in the morning and I’d be like, ‘Oh God, it’s Louis again’. I’d put it on speaker, lie down and listen. But he was passionate, he missed the old show and I liked seeing that side of Louis, sometimes he can get a little bit passive, but this was the Louis I have always known as a manager, he’s got a big mouth, he’s outspoken and critical, but that’s what I love about him.
You’ve had a love/hate relationship with Sharon in the past, where are you guys now?
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.
Did she make you sweat over her decision to come back?
No, actually it was all done very quickly. Usually this takes forever, but we [the producers] sat in a room in January and I always say to everyone, ‘What would you like to do?’, and the funny thing was everyone said the same thing, ‘This is the panel and we want Dermot back on the show’, there was no either or. It was quick, we got on with it and that was that.
Does it make a difference that these three judges challenge you in ways other judges haven’t?
God they really keep me on my toes. I think some of the time they are putting people through just to wind me up. I’ve kind of got to the point where it doesn’t bother me, I’m used to it. Whatever is going to be, is going to be.
During the auditions you’ve been comparing Nicole to the Antiques Roadshow, what do you mean by that?
When I watch Antiques Roadshow it always makes me laugh because when someone’s sitting there with the object all they really care about is how much it’s worth, then you get the expert talking about the history, and I know what they are thinking, which is, ‘Don’t care about that, how much is it worth?’. Nicole’s like that when she’s about to give someone a yes or a no. All they want at that point is a yes or a no, but she’s going on with more comments and guidance, when all they’re thinking is, ‘Give me a yes, give me a yes!’. She doesn’t get that.
Are you proud 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. You either love it or hate it but you do talk about it. When people aren’t talking about you, then it’s over.
“It was never even an option to take the show off air”