X Factor 2012 – Louis Walsh: Tulisa is a chav in a tracksuit – but she’s a lot of fun

“The show has suffered without Simon Cowell – it’s like the Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger"

Series 9 of The X Factor kicks off this weekend so we caught up with Louis Walsh to find out what he thinks of this year’s judges. Let the sniping, backstabbing and war-of-words begin… 

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Louis on Tulisa: “She is the bold girl next door who can really sing and I love her because she’s the most honest judge I’ve sat next to; what you see on screen is what you get. She is a bit rough round the edges and when they announced she was on the panel I was expecting a chav in a tracksuit – which is what we got – but she’s a lot of fun. She thinks she’s a bigger star than she actually is, though – put that in and bring her down a peg or two!”

Louis on Nicole: “She is gorgeous – even in the morning she looks amazing. I cannot stop looking at her because she always looks beautiful. I think the UK audience are going to love her and The X Factor is going to be the making of her.”

Louis on Gary:“I saw Take That all those years ago and copied them with Boyzone, so I’ve always been a fan of his. And then when the success went away and he was ridiculed and people called him Fat Gary, he carried on working and wrote some amazing songs, so I respect him a lot. He is incredibly talented and it upset me that the British public underrated him for all those years. I am so glad he is back on top.”

Louis Walsh on himself:“I bring experience. I have had some very successful bands and over 30 number one records with them. It’s not bad, is it? Music is what I know – I couldn’t do anything else. I couldn’t do a real job! This is my ninth year and every year I get nervous that Simon will bring someone new in, but I know the show and what works. My ambition is to get to ten years on the show – after that we’ll see. I don’t want to be like Brucie on Strictly. I will know when it’s time to give it up.”

Louis on The X Factor: “The show has suffered without Simon – it’s like the Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger. But we are doing the best we can, although I miss him being there a lot. We are like Steptoe and Son. He may have a go at me quite a lot, but that is just what he is like. He is the best.

But ultimately there is no show on TV like The X Factor – a lot of shows try to copy it, like The Voice, but they will never be as good. I got bored after the chairs stopped turning on that show. Because it’s not just about the voice – it’s about likeability and personality, passion. It was no fun at all – I don’t know what Tom Jones was doing on that show because he was lost.

Our judging panel is going to be great this year. Last year Tulisa and Gary were thrown in at the deep end and we struggled a bit but this year they’re back and they’re stronger and I can’t wait to find the next star.”

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The X Factor returns to ITV1 on Saturday at 8pm