Dermot O’Leary on politics, mudslinging and X Factor

The host of the National Television Awards reveals what makes him reach for the 'off' switch...

What can’t you miss?

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Question Time – it’s probably my favourite show. I love politics, and QT is everything that PMQs isn’t. I get so excited at PMQs, but as soon as it starts, you just get mudslinging, or sycophancy. But with QT you just have members of the public with varying degrees of political intelligence going hell for leather at politicians. I’ve got a bit more respect for politicians than most. 

You did Young Voters’ Question Time at the last general election, will you do that again?

I’d like to do more political stuff, but I’m not in my 30s any more, so I’m probably not the right person to be doing it. Also, I’m a light entertainment presenter and it’s incredible that people don’t think you can do more than one thing! 

What makes you reach for the “off ” switch?

I’ve never got into MasterChef. I feel bad because I love cookery programmes. I think it’s because I’m not a massive fan of very exact food. I’m far more Jamie Oliver in my tastes. It’s the, “Oh that wasn’t cooked at the right temperature, so you’re getting marked down for it” – I’m not a big fan of that. 

What do you tend to watch with your wife, Dee?

Films or dramas. But she’s been away, so I’ve had to put quite a bit of stuff on hold. I texted her the other night asking if I could watch Broadchurch. Despite the fact that I had texted her five or six times that day, asking how she was and hadn’t heard anything back, she came back within 15 seconds with: “No, you cannot.” 

Have you signed up for the next series of X Factor yet?

Not yet. Usually we talk in about mid-February. Of course I love doing it, and it’s a huge part of my life, but it’s eight years now. I haven’t made up my mind yet… If a new challenge came up that meant I couldn’t do both, then… But while I’m still enjoying it, I want to carry on doing it. 

The viewing figures have slipped a bit, why do you think that is?

The way people watch X Factor is very different to the way people watch Strictly. A lot of our audience know that they can go out on a Saturday night and watch it on catch-up, or the kids go to bed and they watch it as a family the following morning. It’s a very long show, and to ask people to watch two-and-a-half hours is never easy. 

Does it annoy you when the Beeb schedules Strictly at the same time?

A little. I don’t lose sleep over it. We’re still doing really, really well. I don’t know if the two audiences overlap as much as we all think they do. The competition’s healthy. Well done to Strictly, they’ve got a successful show. It’s rated really well, and it’s beaten us for the past couple of years. But then again, Bake Off ’s probably beating both of us!  

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Dermot O’Leary presents The National Television Awards tonight (Wednesday 21st January) at 7.30pm