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The X Factor is back! Simon Cowell on what to expect this year.

The X Factor Judges 2018 - Simon Cowell, Robbie Williams, Ayda field-Williams, Louis Tomlinson and host Dermot O'Leary
The X Factor judges 2018

The X Factor returns to ITV this autumn with a brand-new panel.

Robbie Williams, Ayda Williams and Louis Tomlinson join show creator Simon Cowell as judges for The X Factor series 15.

This series will see the return of the arena auditions at The SSE Arena, Wembley, in front of the judges and a 4,000 strong audience.

Should they get more than three ‘yeses’ they will go through to the judge’s deliberation, where the judges will decide who gets to fight for a seat in the Six Chair Challenge.

This year each of our judges has one guaranteed Safe Seat to give in the Six Chair Challenge by pressing a Golden X. The judge can only press the Golden X for one act in their own category. It means the act cannot be swapped out of their chair and they’ll go straight through to Judges’ Houses.

Simon Cowell - X Factor 2018
Simon Cowell - X Factor 2018

Simon Cowell tells us about this year's X Factor:

Here we go again for another series and it looks like you’ve been having the best time during auditions... I’ve had more fun during auditions than I have had in years! The new panel have been great and I love doing auditions in front of an audience. I just can’t understand why we never seem to do that, it’s the weirdest thing. You sit in a small room and someone’s great and literally nothing happens. In the arena when it’s a good audition they go nuts and that’s what they want.

Are you looking for a star this year or good entertainment?

You have to do both. I think the show has got to find a star, you hope to find someone who sells records but the show has to be fun as well.

Changing the panel is always a risk, now you’ve seen them in action, was it a risk worth taking? It was one of those years that I knew we had to make a change, for sure. It just happens, particularly on this show. What I love about Louis, Robbie and Ayda is that they are all fans of the show in their own way, and of course Louis started out on the show. Robbie’s been a huge part of the show over the years, it’s how we became friends, and Ayda has been a revelation, I mean, seriously, she’s been brilliant.

There’s been criticism over Ayda joining the show, do you think that’s unfair?

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. 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.

What does Louis bring to the panel?

Louis, out of all of the lads in One Direction, was always the one who would still come down to the show during rehearsal days to give advice to the new contestants. We’ve had a really good friendship over the years and have talked for a long time about him doing the show. This year he felt comfortable to do it. Seeing someone who has gone through the process I just think is brilliant.

Who’s the naughtiest out of the three new judges?

Oh, Robbie by a mile! But so is Ayda actually, she’s really funny.

What’s the talent like this year?

I always compare the talent to where I was a year ago. I remember a year ago thinking, ‘We’re struggling in certain categories’. I think this year every category has got a potential star, some of them are really raw, which I like. Personality is going to be key

this year. But you just don’t know on this show, someone you expect to be great might not turn out to be and equally someone you least expect can rise to the challenge. That’s the way it goes.

It seems like the auditions are less intense, there are more of the ‘characters’ fans have loved watching in the past... Yeah, it’s definitely not as tense as last year. Last year was hard work, it ended well but god it was a slog, I tell you. We need the characters to keep it entertaining.

Fans will see the return of Anthony Russell who Louis’ been helping personally for the last year... I knew that Louis had reached out to help him with his demons a long time ago. I think it says a lot about the kind of person Louis is, he doesn’t brag about it, he doesn’t talk about it, it’s a very personal thing for him. He called me when he saw Anthony’s audition last year and said his story had really touched him and he wanted me to put him in touch with him. Louis genuinely looked after him. Louis didn’t know Anthony was going to come back to the show this year, he just did it because he liked him. It’s a side a lot of people are going to find out about Louis, he’s a really kind, generous guy, he really is.

Which category do you think is the strongest this year?

The older category this year is really strong. Over the past few years it hasn’t been great or it’s been a bit boring. There are some amazing people in that category this year, I don’t know what happened. There are a couple of groups with real potential, there are a couple of girls and guys I’m excited about too. I’d say each category has got one, two or three really good people.

Here’s a question you threw at the contestants... who is your musical crush?

My musical crush is Frank Sinatra. I just love everything about him, his voice, he was really cool. I just love him.

NEW Promo Photos



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