Five minutes with Xtra Factor newbie Roman Kemp

From fearing Sharon Osbourne to Louis Walsh's Spandau wind-ups, we get the new 'digital' face of the 'X' to dish on life behind-the-scenes...

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Capital FM DJ Roman Kemp has been scooped up by ITV to join this year’s X Factor. As well as being X Factor’s digital presenter – hosting all online content – he’ll be part of the brand new Xtra Factor Live alongside Matt Edmondson and Rylan Clark-Neal as the show’s resident social media reporter. And as basically the only brand new face on this ‘throwback’ year, we wanted to get his view on what’s really going on behind the scenes, what judges Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger are really like and what we can really expect from this new after hours live show…

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On joining The Xtra Factor Live:

“It’s just amazing and quite overwhelming for me to be able to say I’m going to be on Xtra Factor every week and I’m going to be part of this show. It’s weird, it’s very strange.”

… and having to get into the swing of it very quickly

My first day was the day after I found out I got the job. That’s how I like to work – throw me in and see where I can swim to.”

Of this year’s ‘warmer’ feel:

“It’s got a really warm vibe to it this year. Very friendly, very fun. It almost feels like the family is back together. With the judges especially. Back to the room auditions, which is super intense and super funny. It’s kind of like a throwback, it’s nice. It’s really, really warm. 

“It reminds of when the show started. It’s not too glitz, it’s not overly polished. You can just see everyone’s just enjoying themselves.”

On what the judges are really like:

“Having Sharon and Louis there just changes the game completely. Nicole’s so good. Nicole is like the secret glue that calms down everything between Simon and Sharon and Louis.

“‘Sch-amazing’ is definitely back. I’ve heard that already,” he jokes of her famous catchphrase. “I’m sure she’ll be pulling them out every week.

“Simon said how happy he was that I was a part of it. He’s a lovely guy. Obviously it’s hard not to be scared of Simon Cowell when you’ve watched him on TV for some many years. But he’s a lovely guy.

“Louis is so funny, the banter never stops with Louis. Louis is the biggest wind up merchant you can ever find.

“Then you’ve just got Sharon trying to hit him telling him to stop. It’s so funny.”

“I was most nervous to meet Sharon,” he admits. “I watched The Osbournes growing up with my mum and dad and I love that show. I love her. She’s so cool. She’s like a British icon now. She’s like British royalty. A very warm person. [But] when you’ve seen someone on TV your whole life, it was very strange for me.”

Of his famous parents…

“Once Louis clocked on to the fact that my parents were from a musical background, that was it. I’m never going to hear the end of that: constant renditions of Pepsie & Shirley (his mum Shirlie Holliman’s group) and Spandau Ballet (for whom his dad Martin Kemp is the bass player) will be coming out this year, I’m telling you.”

Roman’s view on the critique last year’s show – and hosts – got…

“I think it came under a lot of unfair criticism last year. That happens, it’s TV. But I honestly think that it’s almost gone through that bad patch where people are looking to poke holes in parts of the show. I think it’s come out the other side and I think this year everyone’s just going to enjoy it.

“It’s an incredible show. Regardless of what happened last year. Millions of people are still going to watch this show and love it.”

Speaking of that much-reported Olly Murs mishap (which saw him incorrectly say Monica Michael was going home) Roman says the same: “I think it’s what I said; last year it was unfair on Olly. It happens all the time. People are waiting to find a spot to just poke at in the series last year. But, honestly, mistakes are just what make us human.”

How going live will help Xtra Factor improve:

Describing the show as “chaos”, Roman says he think it’s needs more of that this year: “That show has failed to be that over the past few years. It’s almost been that polished thing and watching something that we’d already watched half an hour before. Just like ‘hang on this is just the main show repeated’. It’s gossip for me that show. It’s saying ‘what do you think of this?’, or ‘I didn’t think this was very good’. It’s the show being able to laugh at itself, which is great.”

His verdict on Matt Edmondson and Rylan Clark-Neal fronting Xtra:

“I think it’s perfect. I think it’s so funny. The dynamics between those two – it’s going to really work. It’s already translating in the teaser trailers we’ve put out. It just works. It’s really nice and it’s a different partnership to what people were expecting.

“I’m here to calm them down,” he jokes of his role in the presenting team. A port in a storm, we ask? “I think so,” he chuckles. 

Of telling his parents they couldn’t audition:

“It was one of the first things that I was sure to say to them – that they couldn’t do it…” he laughs. 

“My parents are just super proud. My whole family are fans of the show. It’s going to be very surreal for them to flick the show on they watch every week and see their son there.”

So your dad wasn’t trying to get a ‘guest judge’ spot through you?

“No! Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure ITV have been asking him quite a few times…”

The Xtra Factor Live starts on ITV2 at 9.30pm on Saturday 27th August and 9pm on Sunday 28th August

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For all the latest X Factor news and gossip visit itv.com/xfactor