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Exclusive - Dermot O'Leary gives update on X Factor return as he's joined by Dave Grohl for Reel Stories

The TV presenter says ITV's X Factor could do with a little change when it returns.

Dermot O'Leary
Published: Saturday, 27th March 2021 at 5:00 pm

Dermot O'Leary will sit down with Foo Fighters star Dave Grohl for the next episode of Reel Stories.


In the in-depth chat, he will guide Dave through his highlights reel, taking him back to some of the most pivotal moments in his life and career, from his first TV performance with Nirvana aged 22, right through to headlining Reading and Leeds Festival in 2019.

Speaking exclusively to, Dermot revealed the highlights of their conversation, joking: "I think for me, it was probably it was working and not losing the connection."

Opening up on working during the pandemic, he continued: "Technically it was difficult because we weren't sure. It's not just a regular interview because you have to play all these clips and you want to get pretty much everything, because we never show the guests what clips. So, this works really well when someone is in the screening room with you, but when they're in Los Angeles, 1000s of miles away, it's really hard, but I think he got the concept and premise pretty well."

Luckily, they were able to get through the chat, which gave the TV presenter the opportunity to touch on more sensitive topics with Dave - something he says would have been a "remiss" if he chose to ignore.

"I think the highlight for me was that we told his story really well. And actually we didn't miss anything out. There's some pretty serious stuff that you'd be remiss if you didn't cover, say the Nirvana years, but there's not a lot that he hasn't said about the Nirvana years but at the same time, if you're telling the story of this incredible story of this man in rock music, then to not talk about one of the biggest bands in the world and his friend's mental health and where that left them, would have been a remiss, so it's a hard one as to how you tread that, and I think, you just have to try and do it with empathy."

Dermot's episode with Dave will air on BBC Two on March 27th, and over the year he'll be joined by more celebrity guests.

Later this year, he'll host the virtual BAFTAs alongside Clara Amfo and Edith Bowman.

Viewers were expecting to see him back on The X Factor, which he has hosted since 2007, minus a one year break in 2015.

Dermot O'Leary Reel Stories
Dermot O'Leary and Dave Grohl on the BBC's Reel Stories BBC

However, it's unlikely the show will return for 2021, with reports suggesting it'll be back on air in 2022.

"I'd be very surprised, well, I pretty much know it's not going to come back this year," Dermot told us.

Speaking of the show's break in 2019 and 2020, he continued: "I think when we had a rest, we thought that was probably the right decision. What shape it comes back in, I don't know. I'm in two minds, because half of me thinks there's a reason why we rested it, because we were doing the same thing but then again, there is a real sense of simplicity to that show I love, which is great singers and great characters. It's a celebration of British eccentricity! Let's just get them out there and see where we end up."

X Factor
X Factor Judges Louis Walsh, Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger and host Dermot O'Leary.

Dermot thinks The X Factor needs to continue moving with the times and adapt to changes in the music industry in order to thrive upon its return.

He said: "I think what's interesting about the show is that it very much evolved to always mirror how people make music. So, when we first started, I know that the judges found it quite uncomfortable, particularly for Simon, when people would come on and go, 'Tell me who you want me to be and I'll do it,' and you won't get a career if you do that."

Referencing previous stars of the show, he added: "All the people who have succeeded on that show are people who have walked to the beat of their own drum like, James Arthur and Ella Henderson. Even One Direction, who were a boyband, were very much a boyband who did things the way they wanted to do it, and you only have to see how well they've done off the back of it - Harry and Niall particularly. Whereas people towards the end were coming on and going, 'Oh I've written half my album and I just need a leg up.' And I think, if we do come back, that's the area we need to inhabit - just actually giving people a leg up into the music industry."


Dermot O’Leary hosts Reel Stories: Dave Grohl, on Saturday 27 March, 10.30pm on BBC Two. Check out the rest of our Entertainment coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.


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