Yep, Louis Walsh is feeling pretty smug that X Factor ratings struggled without him last year

Mr Walsh rather enjoyed sitting at home watching X Factor's figures dip in his absence

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Louis Walsh is making absolutely no bones about the fact that he really enjoyed watching X Factor’s ratings drop without him on the show last year. 

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Is he smug? “Absolutely. Delighted!” he tells RadioTimes.com as he merrily returns to the panel, seemingly to show everyone how it’s done.

Despite the to-the-point answer he’s not really off message. The general vibe coming from camp XF is that last year was a bit of a blip – the opening episode drew 7.6 million overnight viewers and continued to struggle – and that it’ll all be OK again this year. 

Louis isn’t bothered about being frank with Simon Cowell anyway, saying his 2am wind-up calls – during which he’d tell the boss everything he was doing wrong last series – were OK because Simon likes people to get to the point. 

“Why not be honest about it? We’re friends, he likes honesty. I just have to tell it like it is.”

Louis says this year’s line-up is his “dream”, with Sharon Osbourne and Nicole Scherzinger also returning alongside Simon Cowell in one almighty ‘throwback’ year. 

The long-running judge also dishes on what changed Mrs O’s mind about singing shows and what his Ibiza-based Judges’ Houses was like. Watch it all below…

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