Since launching the show in 2004 Simon has become renowned for his no-nonsense judging style, but is this the year he softens up?
It looks like you’ve been having the best time during auditions...
I’ve had more fun during auditions than I have had in years! The new panel have been great and I love doing auditions in front of an audience.
Are you looking for a star this year or good entertainment?
You have to do both. I think the show has got to find a star, you hope to find someone who sells records but the show has to be fun.
Was changing the panel a risk worth taking?
It was one of those years that I knew we had to make a change, for sure. It just happens, particularly on this show. What I love about Louis, Robbie and Ayda is that they are all fans of the show in their own way, and of course Louis started out on the show. Robbie’s been a huge part of the show over the years, it’s how we became friends, and Ayda has been a revelation, I mean, seriously, she’s been brilliant.
There’s been criticism over Ayda joining the show, do you think that’s unfair?
I can name you on one hand the good managers I know, you don’t have to be a music manager or an artist to be on this show. You’ve got to have taste, good instincts and you have to like people. The irony is that the public actually judge this competition. Ayda has seen the music business from a different point of view so she brings a different perspective to the panel. I think she’s amazing.
What does Louis bring to the panel?
Louis, out of all of the lads in One Direction, was always the one who would still come down to the show during rehearsal days to give advice to the new contestants. We’ve had a really good friendship over the years and have talked for a long time about him doing the show. This year he felt comfortable to do it. Seeing someone who has gone through the process is brilliant.
Who’s the naughtiest out of the three new judges?
Oh, Robbie by a mile! But so is Ayda actually, she’s really funny.
Who is your musical crush?
My musical crush is Frank Sinatra. I just love everything about him, his voice, he was really cool. I just love him.