Meet The Xtra Factor's new presenter
How excited are you about your new role?
I’m so excited about the new role. It’s a dream job. When I found out I was at the gym getting a protein shake and my agent called me and told me I’d got the job, I screamed and everyone thought I had bought a dodgy protein shake. I just keep reminding myself to enjoy it while it’s happening rather than thinking ahead to the live shows.
How do you think Xtra Factor will be different from previous series?
I just think it will be sassy, there’s going to be way more banter. I’ve got the opportunity to bounce off the new judges and I think this year there’ll be lots more music credibility, we all really know our stuff. And of course the return of Simon and Cheryl which you cannot beat!
Tonight saw the official launch to the press of The X Factor 2014. Amidst a fan frenzy outside, the judges (all except Mel B who was in America) made their way inside London's Ham Yard Hotel for a special screening of the show.
With the 11th series ready to go, we caught up with the man who keeps the contestants and the judges in check.
What do you think each of the panel bring to the show?
It’s a good panel, it really is. Mel for me is almost like a mini Sharon Osbourne. It doesn’t matter what anyone says to her, she knows her own mind. You need someone who will make their decision instinctively and shoots from the hip. Cheryl is incredibly insightful, emotionally engaging and really intelligent. Simon brings brutal honesty and you need that, because this is an audition process. Louis for me brings encyclopaedic music knowledge, and say what you want about him but he knows how to put a band together. Also, he’s not afraid of making decisions that won’t make him popular with the people.
Simon is back on the show and Mel B is known for her feisty opinions – how are you going to keep the judges in check?
I can’t wait for the live shows, because I like it when the panel has disagreements and when it kicks off, because that’s what I’m there for. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it when they go below the belt, or they start saying nasty things to each other, or they have disagreements in the press, I’m not a big fan of any of that. But I like it in studio when all’s fair in love and war, and then when it finishes, we have a drink together.
We caught up with The X Factor boss Simon Cowell and quizzed him on what we can expect from this year's series.
How does it feel to be back?
It actually feels really good to be back in the UK. I think in a weird way it’s good I’ve had a break from the show. I’ve watched the show from a distance, and now I feel like I’m in control again. I like it.
What’s going to be different about this year?
I think you’re going to hear a different kind of singer this year. The show is going to look different in terms of the line-up, and on this year there are a lot of hurdles to overcome. You’ve got to go from the small room to the arena to the six chair challenge, which I think is a great addition. Then you’ve got to do the judges’ houses visit, then you make it on the live shows. So anyone who gets to the live shows has earned their spot.
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How would you describe yourself as a judge?
I would like to think that I’m just really honest. I call it how it is, and whatever I see and whatever I feel, I just express that.
How have you found the rooms compared to the arenas? What do you think the difference is for the acts?
I think in the audition room it’s very nerve-wracking for the contestants, because it’s us four and them. It’s almost like being in prison, with us four. Who would want to be in that situation? But then in the arenas they really get that feedback from the audience - they get to entertain us and the crowd, which is a whole different level.
What is your biggest audition turn off?
My biggest audition turn off is when the contestants go: ‘Come on everybody join in, clap your hands’. I’m like: ‘Uhhh no’.
Louis Walsh is back for his 11th series...
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Having Simon Cowell back. I think he’s going to be different, I think he’s going to be fun. I think there are going to be sparks between Simon, Cheryl and Mel B. There’s good chemistry between all of us. Simon and Cheryl are very funny always annoying each other. Mel is just honest. This is the perfect X Factor panel, it really is.
In all of your years on The X Factor, which of the show’s alumni have made the biggest impression on you in their first auditions?
I always remember JLS in their first audition. When they walked in they were the perfect group. Not just vocally, but mentally and the way they worked together. I loved working with a lot of other people – Shane Ward, Jedward - for different reasons, but the most perfect act for me was JLS.
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What made you decide to come back to the show this year?
Well aside from a lot of begging and grovelling on Mr Cowell’s part, it just felt like the right time. I’d had enough time away to appreciate it and get really excited to find new talent again.
We’ve heard that Simon has been winding you up during filming for the auditions?
Simon has his very own way of being very annoying! He knows which buttons to push and he’ll push them, and push them, and push them. But I play the long game... I’m waiting. Don’t worry about me, I’ll get my own back.
That's right the boss is back. Our new Xtra Factor host Sarah-Jane Crawford walks you through some of Simon's most memorable moments from his classic put downs, his favourite auditions and the formation of the world's biggest boy band.
The show includes exclusive footage of the man himself remembering his highlights of The X Factor.
Watch The Boss is Back 8pm, Monday 25th August, ITV2st-block-8