Dermot O’Leary: Simon Cowell should rest X Factor for a year

Former X Factor host Dermot O'Leary. Picture: PA
Former X Factor host Dermot O'Leary. Picture: PA
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FORMER X Factor host Dermot O’Leary thinks Simon Cowell should take the show off air for a year and take it back to its original format.

The ITV talent show’s recent season struggled to reach its previous viewing figures, with just over seven million watching the show’s launch compared to nine million in 2014.

O’Leary told the Radio Times: “If I was Simon I’d take it off air for a year. I’d rest it, and then I’d get back to the rooms. For me it was always room, arena, boot camp.”

The X Factor previously featured in-room auditions where the prospective contestants sang solely for the judges, but these were replaced by arena auditions in front of a live audience.

Recent years have also seen the introduction of the Six Chair Challenge, where the contestants are whittled down and must give up their chairs when the judges decide another singer is better.

“I was really uncomfortable about the Six Chair Challenge,” O’Leary said. “I don’t think it’s a particularly nice bit of television.”

On his decision to quit, he said: “I lived for the live shows. And I was still having fun doing them, but it got to the point where I couldn’t develop anything else. And you’ve only got one life, haven’t you?”

The TV presenter is just about to return to screens with his new series The Getaway Car, which sees contestants taking on assault courses guided by their loved ones. The contestants who make it to the final round get to take on the Stig for a £10,000 prize.

He explained: “At its heart, it’s Total Wipeout with an element of Gogglebox chucked in.”

• This week’s Radio Times goes on sale on Tuesday January 12. The Getaway Car begins on BBC One on January 16.