Cheryl Fernandez-Versini had a new round to contend with on her return to this year’s X Factor series – the Six Chair Challenge.
It’s one heck of a challenge for the contestants, as their performance at Boot Camp can see them awarded a chair (and a place in the next round) only to be swapped out if a better singer comes along.
But it’s tough for Cheryl too, who has to do the swaps in front of, what turned out to be, a very vocal Wembley Arena crowd.
“The Six Chair Challenge was hell for me,” admits Cheryl, who has rejoined the panel alongside Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Mel B after leaving in 2010.
“I didn’t enjoy it one little bit, but I understood it as it progressed. I got to understand what it was about and I knew that in the end I had to take through the six people I believed had variety and had talent and I could work with well.”
The crowd certainly didn’t seem to be behind the Crazy Stupid Love singer, who is mentoring the girls, booing as she chopped and changed her mind. Simon Cowell eventually stepped in to tell the crowd to give her a chance to finish her job.
But while the booing was so intense it prompted the usually chirpy warm-up comedian Ian Royce to step in and attempt to calm the situation, Cheryl bats it away.
“The reaction of the crowd is pantomime for me. At the end of the day, it had to be my decision and that’s what I did. I’ve made my decision.”
The format of the Six Chair Challenge was only added into last year’s series, with cries from contestants and fans alike that the show had gone all a bit Hunger Games-esque in its approach.
And with the minimum age required to enter now lowered to fourteen, it’s been suggested that this is too tough for acts to mentally cope with.
But Cheryl explains there are rules when it comes to the younger contestants.
“We never took them out of the chair. If they were under the age of sixteen, they never got removed from a chair.”
Host Dermot O’Leary adds, “It’s a good test of character at the end of the day. Nothing in comparison to what they’ll feel when we go live. Everyone gets their chance.”
The X Factor returns this Saturday and Sunday at 8:00pm on ITV