Former Xtra Factor host Caroline Flack thought her decision to take part in Strictly Come Dancing last year would rule out a return to X Factor.
“I completely thought I closed the door,” Flack told RadioTimes.com, whose move from Xtra Factor host to Strictly contestant won her the coveted glitterball trophy in 2014.
“I sort of said goodbye to X Factor and I had to properly say goodbye because it was such a big part of my life. I’d spent so much time doing it.”
Many saw it as defecting to the other side because the ratings of the two Saturday night shows are regularly compared. Flack says she doesn’t view it that way herself: “They’re on at the same time, that’s all it is”.
This year she returns to front the main show alongside her former Xtra Factor co-host Olly Murs, which feels “strange”.
“It’s like going back to a boyfriend. It’s like going back into a relationship and that actually, having a bit of time apart, was good,” Flack explains. “You go back and it’s going to be better than it was.”
It’s not a role Flack would have jumped at doing by herself, she admits. “I would have been petrified to do it on my own. Petrified. As soon as they mentioned Olly’s name I was like, Ok, that makes sense.”
Before accepting the job, she consulted her predecessor Dermot O’Leary – the pair often refer to each other as TV siblings.
“I spoke to Dermot straightaway. I was like, right, I can’t do anything until I’ve spoken to Dermot; I can’t give an answer. He was fine. He was like, ‘This is your job, you should do it’.”
At first, Flack thought Cowell was going to give her a brand new show to host.
“I went to see him in January and he didn’t talk about X Factor, he just talked about Strictly, and I was like, ‘This is it, this is the moment, he’s going to offer me a big new show’. I was getting ready to say yes, and he was like, ‘So I’ll see you soon.’”
Not that Flack’s short of offers; next month she’ll also begin hosting ITV2’s new-look Love Island. She’ll have to jet between both jobs but isn’t worried about the schedule overload.
“I’ve got a very carefully organised diary. I’ll go back and forth to both. I’ll start confusing the jobs. ‘Did you sleep with him? I mean, ‘What’s your song…?’
The X Factor returns to ITV later this year