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Simon Cowell: "This is a big shake-up, maybe the biggest yet"

Simon Cowell, Robbie Williams, Ayda Field and Louis Tomlinson at the X Factor press conference.

Simon Cowell moved heaven and earth to get Robbie Williams on the X Factor this year.

Simon has reportedly paid £10m to bring Robbie and his wife Ayda to the judges desk this year.

Robbie confirmed that Simon had asked him to be a part of the show even before the first series, in 2004, and had long since given up on getting him on board. 

Robbie said: "Even as a two-for-one, it was still an expensive deal, but Robbie thinks Simon could have paid more. 

Simon Cowell: "We’ve got our money’s worth. Performers look up to Robbie"

‘Do I think I’m worth more?’ he says. ‘Yes. But I think they got a good deal, and we got a good deal too."

Simon Cowell appears to think so too, speaking to the Mail Online he said: ‘A very good deal,’ he says. ‘I was a little nervous before filming started. You never know what the chemistry will be like, how people will react in the chair, but these two took to it like ducks to water. 

'We’ve got our money’s worth. Performers look up to Robbie. I think the contestants have upped their game this year, performing for him.’ 

And Ayda? ‘She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s got a great attitude. I think audiences will love her.’

If this lot are a family then they’re a dysfunctional one. ‘Someone on Twitter said we were mum, dad, the grumpy teenager and the drunken grandad,’ says Robbie.

Simon, of course, isn’t hugely thrilled to be painted as the drunken grandpa.

Louis Tomlinson remembers his audition from his One Direction days ‘The thing I remind myself of, when I see people audition, is how none of One Direction had a brilliant first audition [all the members entered as solo competitors, only being formed into a group during the series]. 

'None of us set the place on fire – that came later. I think you have to remember that when you’re about to dismiss someone.’

Have Robbie and Ayda been brought in to save the show? Simon says not. 

‘But we’re always striving to make it better. This is a big shake-up, maybe the biggest yet, but the show is constantly evolving.’ 

Ayda laughs at the saviour suggestion. ‘I don’t think we’re brave or noble enough,’ she says. 

The X Factor returns this Saturday and Sunday on ITV.

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