New X Factor judge Nick Grimshaw has only been sat behind the desk a few weeks, but he oozes so much confidence you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d been there from day one.
Insiders had already told me the Radio 1 DJ brings David Walliams-style comedy to the panel and seeing him in action for the first time during Wednesday’s Wembley auditions was a delight. He didn’t sidle onto the stage, scuff his feet into the floor and give a meek wave when he was introduced as the “newbie”. It wasn’t like watching a terrified child draped in a bathrobe attempt to play the role of Joseph in the school Nativity. Nope, Grimshaw bolted out of the gate, wound up his fellow judges and even took the lead on getting the crowd to cheer for new hosts Caroline Flack and Olly Murs. This isn’t a guy standing back to see how it’s done.
Once in full audition swing Grimshaw didn’t talk about “The X Factor” or “this show” like he’s an outsider, he talked to the acts about what “we” can do, how “we” can help, as if he’s done it hundreds of times over and knows exactly how this thing works. Grimmers even occasionally did that Simon Cowell hand in the air thing to halt the music when he’d heard enough or wanted the singer to try another track. I even noticed he borrowed the exasperated “It’s just my opinion…” line from Cowell when the crowd booed his critique. He doesn’t come across as cocky, but rather as someone totally engaged and excited about what he’s doing.
The panel is playful, upbeat and smiley. Sure they occasionally* (*quite often) wander off topic. Cowell and Grimshaw had a lovely chat about whether anyone would be fired for throwing chicken at each other yesterday. Cowell also had several discussions with wannabe pop stars about keeping their dogs safe from vicious seagulls. This led one panicked singer to cry out “Why are we talking about my dog?” as he clutched the microphone desperate to show off his vocals. But hey, without all that, it’s just a show about singing and we don’t just watch the X Factor for the music, right? The signs are good Grimmy, the signs are good.