What can we expect from The X Factor this year?
According to the judges – and Dermot O’Leary – we’re in for more ‘characters’ auditioning, plenty of hilarious moments between Robbie Williams and Ayda Field, and an amusingly-named tribute act.
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Here’s what you need to know about this year’s series, courtesy of the stars themselves…
1. Simon didn’t have a great time on The X Factor last year
In a rather surprising interview, Simon has said that The X Factor was “struggling” in certain categories last year, and that he found the show “hard work”. He even went so far as to brand it “a slog”.
He also laid into the ‘Overs’ category, saying it “hasn’t been great or it’s been a bit boring” for the past few years.
2. Robbie Williams tribute act Blobbie Williams auditions
“Blobbie Williams looked eerily like my husband, I’m not going to lie,” says Ayda Field. “It was like looking into the future; if he has a year of pies then this is now my husband, Blobbie.”
If you want a taste of what Blobbie’s going to bring when he auditions for the show, there’s a video of him performing below. Hilariously his tour is called ‘The Heavier Entertainment Show’, a pun on Robbie’s recent actual tour The Heavy Entertainment Show.
3. Ayda Field knows she’s got to “sell herself” to X Factor viewers
There were eyebrows raised when Ayda was announced as an X Factor judge. Other than vicariously through her husband, the actress doesn’t have experience of being a musician. She’s previously defended her place on the panel, saying she’s excited to be the “underdog” and “show the boys how it’s done”.
Now her fellow X Factor colleagues have spoken about her appointment on the show. “Ayda knows that she’s got to sell herself to the British public,” says Dermot. “I’ve been so impressed with her. She knows the business inside-out.
“Showbusiness is showbusiness, whether you’re a host, an actor or a singer,” continues Dermot. “It’s the same in many ways: the same skill sets being a performer apply. She’s been in the industry for the best part of 20 years and she’s been married to Robbie for years. She knows what it’s like to live with an artist and she knows the industry inside out.”
Simon agrees. “I can name you on one hand the good managers I know; you don’t have to be a music manager or an artist to be on this show,” he said. “You have to have taste, good instincts, you have got to like people. The irony is that the public actually judge this competition. Ayda has seen the music business from a different point of view so she brings a different perspective to the panel. I think she’s amazing.”
4. Robbie Williams is loving being an X Factor judge
Robbie has been a longtime friend of The X Factor. Whether it’s been performing on the show or being a mentor at Judges’ Houses, Robbie’s popped up countless times over the years. Now he’s wondering why it’s taken him so long to actually join the panel.
“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in showbusiness hands down, full stop,” he said. “I just can’t believe I’ve never done it before. In a weird way the pressure is off.
“When you appear on TV shows like The X Factor doing promotion you’re being judged. Now we’re doing the judging. I feel like I’ve found a new lease of life. I love working with my wife and it’s just fun. It’s brought a whole lot of fun back to my job.”
5. Ayda has a rather unflattering nickname for Simon
Ayda isn’t bothered about the fact that Simon Cowell is her new boss. Instead, she’s come up with a rather unflattering nickname for him.
“We would just pick on Simon no matter what,” she said of the judges’ dynamic. “I think Louis is now part of our team and picking on Simon too. Simon is just too easy to pick on because he’s like Doctor Evil and our boss, so you have to pick on him.
“You can’t just let him slide with some of his stuff. We’ve started to pick up on Simon’s game: if we say something smart or have an idea, Simon repeats it and knows his version will make the edit. So now I keep trying to clump myself with Simon so he can’t edit me out. I mean, we’ve got to take Simon down. Doctor Evil can’t win all the time.”
6. We will get an insight into Robbie and Ayda’s marriage
“The great thing for me is that Ayda scores points off him and Robbie just takes it!” says Dermot. “I think that’s really cool. There’s a real playfulness between them but then there’s so much love between them. They’ll get up and start dancing together. Sometimes it’s like we are in their front room.”
When it comes to the live shows, Dermot also reckons the pair will end up being “very naughty”.
“But none of that bothers me,” he says. “As long as I know where I’m going then chaos can happen and I’m happy to let it breathe. The environment is playful, but I think it’ll be interesting to see how competitive they all get as the show goes on. Right now, there’s no competition really. But then as it goes it gets more interesting, especially when new people have come in because they really want to win on their first year!”
7. There’s “something for everybody” on The X Factor this year
“I think we’ve got a very strong show, from the silliness to the whimsy, to the actual gold plated talent,” explained Robbie. “I think we’re covered, I think there’s a bit of something for everybody.”
Meanwhile Dermot added that we can expect to see more ‘characters’ on this year’s series: “We have so many singers that come with a very clear sense of who they are, we’ve got to embrace that. But I think it’s important that we’re there to give everyone a springboard.
“I think we’re at the point now where you can have characters but the characters have to be able to sing. I think that’s what’s been interesting this year.”
8. Take That would have auditioned for The X Factor
Asked whether he thought it was harder to launch a career now than when he started out, Robbie replied: “I don’t know, that was last century!
“This is one hell of a platform though, isn’t it? Take That didn’t have the option of being seen by ten million people each weekend. If we had had that option then we would have obviously grabbed it with five sets of hands. As it happens these lucky people will have just that and they should grab the opportunity with both hands and make everything they can from it.”
The X Factor airs Saturdays and Sundays on ITV