Dermot O’Leary: Louis Walsh is like House of Cards’ Frank Underwood

The returning X Factor presenter is on board with our theory that Mr Walsh is the one really pulling the strings...

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I have a theory that it’s actually Louis Walsh, not Simon Cowell, pulling the strings at X Factor this year. And it seems I’m not alone… Host Dermot O’Leary admits the returning judge bears a certain resemblance to House of Cards’ Machiavellian lead Frank Underwood.

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(Well, what with all of Walsh’s assertions of who everyone else is a young version of, we’ve got to find someone to compare him to, right?)

“There is definitely a touch of Frank Underwood about him,” O’Leary laughed to RadioTimes.com at today’s X Factor red carpet launch, where the pair were both back after skipping last year’s series. 

Cowell’s usually seen as the boss, the decision maker, the one leading the charge, low slung top on, stubble in place. But a lot of this year’s decisions seem to be coming from the Irish music manager instead. Like O’Leary says, it does feel like the early days of cunning politician Underwood: his influences may not be immediately obvious, but they pay off in the end. 

After all Walsh managed to mastermind his return to X Factor. It was him who wanted Sharon Osbourne back, too. And then they worked together to get Nicole Scherzinger back. Throw in that Walsh is the reason Rylan Clark-Neal has ended up co-hosting The Xtra Factor Live and he’s pushed for the Prince and David Bowie-themed weeks that we’ll see when the shows go live, and you have to wonder what Simon Cowell’s done beyond unbuttoning his own shirts just so.

O’Leary also admits Mr Underwood/Walsh will continue to test him when the show goes live, especially if he’s left with that final I’m-going-to-have-to-hurry-you-Louis ‘Deadlock’ decision. Although Dermot’s also more than aware that show bosses might just be doing that so they can enjoy watching him squirm…

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The X Factor returns this Saturday and Sunday at 8:00pm on ITV