Simon Cowell: 2011 X Factor was “sub-standard”

Meanwhile, reality tycoon has designs on Gareth Malone and Dawn French

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Earlier this week he was slamming the Britain’s Got Talent judges – now Simon Cowell has criticised another of his own programmes.

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“The X Factor felt sub-standard,” said Cowell of last year’s show, in an interview with the Mail on Sunday. “It won’t happen again. The selection process has to be better. We have good years and crappy years and there just wasn’t enough raw talent and personality in the [2011] finals.”

Of the judging panel, he said: “There will be some changes.” There have been strong rumours that Kelly Rowland will not return, and Cowell was even equivocal about 2011 head judge Gary Barlow: “Some people loved him, some people didn’t.” However, Cowell said he would “find it difficult” to do the programme without Louis Walsh.

Cowell also said choirmaster Gareth Malone, whose collaboration with the Military Wives replaced Little Mix’s Cannonball at the top of the charts and prevented The X Factor having a Christmas number one, “should be a Syco target”.

“He is like a stealth missile,” Cowell said of Malone. “He has sort of crept up on everyone. He would be good for us. I wasn’t furious about the army wives single beating us. I had two copies of it on pre-order.”

Cowell’s other new idea is a cookery show, a search for an outstanding British recipe that would then be made and sold by Marks & Spencer. His ideal host for the show would be Dawn French.

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“I would love Dawn to do it,” he said. “I know she has lost a lot of weight, but I am hoping to persuade her to put a tiny bit back on with me. I like home food. My mum’s roast potatoes. Shepherd’s pie. Cornish pasties. I want stuff like that on the show.”