This interview was originally published in Radio Times magazine.


You’ve got homes in Los Angeles and London. Where are you now?

I’m in LA, filming America’s Got Talent. I’m here about three months of the year.

What’s the TV set-up when you sit down with fiancée Lauren and your eight-year-old son Eric?

We’ve got a large, L-shaped sofa. It’s very comfortable but not smart, because we’ve got three dogs who will be on it fighting with each other. I’m a big believer that you can’t have a big enough TV. I never understand people who watch a movie on their phones. I want to feel like I’m at the cinema.

Is there snacking going on?

There’s always an argument because Eric and I like to eat in front of the TV, but Lauren likes to eat more formally at the table. At the moment, Eric and I are winning.

What are you enjoying watching?

I’m loving introducing Eric to my favourite movies, like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future. I wish I could experience those films again for the first time, but I get to do that through Eric by seeing his reaction.

Who’s in charge of the remote?

We always argue about what to watch so we put names into a hat. Tonight, it’s Flubber. My only rule is that whatever you watch at night, it’s got to make you feel good. It can’t be anything miserable, or a horror movie.

What do you watch after Eric has gone to bed?

I worry that I’ll start a new series and not like it, so I tend to watch things over and over again. I’ve watched The Crown three times. The level of detail is amazing. I like dramas that are based on real events; I find them more interesting.

Are you still a night owl?

No. My schedule ten years ago was crazy. I would work every night until six in the morning, go to bed, wake up in the afternoon then start again. I was doing 18-hour days. Now I’m up at 8am. In the evening I’ll say, “That’s it. No calls, no emails, nothing.”

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You look well on it…

Thank you. I feel better. That accident on my bike was pretty horrendous [Cowell broke his back falling off an electric motorbike in 2020] and I had a trainer to get me through it otherwise I’d never heal properly. Now I’m fitter than I was before. So I’m kind of happy it happened, weirdly. It’s like it was meant to be.

You broke your arm in another fall from your bike earlier this year. Have you got rid of it now?

No! I’m literally obsessed with it.

Last year you had to rest Britain’s Got Talent. What was that like?

I remember reading about the new Delta variant in December 2020 and it was freaking me out. We pulled it at the last minute because it didn’t feel safe. I knew it wasn’t going to make me very popular, but it was the right thing to do.

Britain's Got Talent presenters Ant and Dec, pictured with judges Amanda Holden, David Walliams, Alesha Dixon and Simon Cowell
Britain's Got Talent presenters Ant and Dec, pictured with judges Amanda Holden, David Walliams, Alesha Dixon and Simon Cowell Getty

What was it like coming back to film the show this year?

There was a lot of energy and it felt special. When we did the show with a virtual audience in 2020, I realised how important the atmosphere is. The audience reaction is absolutely crucial.

Have you started watching your rival show Strictly since X Factor finished on Saturday nights?

That’s very funny. Look, I don’t sit there on a Saturday night and watch, but occasionally I might see a bit of it. They’ve done a brilliant job. Like BGT, it hasn’t really changed. That’s a great lesson: when you’ve got something that works, don’t tinker with it.

Finally, Pop Idol is rumoured to be coming back. Can you tell us anything about that?

I wouldn’t have a clue…

Britain's Got Talent 2022 continues on Saturday 23rd April at 8pm. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Entertainment hub for the latest news.


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