Cowell jibes were a Storm in a teacup for X Factor reject

ON SCREEN there appeared to be no love lost between Edinburgh singer Storm Lee and X Factor supremo Simon Cowell.

• Storm Lee Gardner, right, enjoys a pint in the Mitre with brother Gary.

From the start, Cowell told the singer his name was "stupid" and he later described him as sounding like "a singing fly".

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So it may come as a shock to fans of the show to discover that, off screen, the pair got on like a house on fire.

In an exclusive interview at the Mitre Pub, on the Royal Mile, Storm Lee Gardner revealed that Simon Cowell, below, is actually a "really nice guy" who spent a lot of time offering him advice, despite mocking his name.

Visiting Edinburgh to see his family, friends and fans, Storm, 37, who was brought up in St Mary's Street before moving to Los Angeles as a teenager to pursue his singing dream, said: "I had some really good chats with Simon. Off camera, he is a completely different character and a very nice guy. We got on very well, despite all of the press surrounding my name."

Storm was voted off the show in a blaze of fiery hair, sparkly rings and oversized sunglasses, but insisted audiences had not seen the best of him.

Now Scotland's only X Factor finalist has revealed he is already penning a debut album, has thrown himself into charity work and has binned the "silly" red hair dye.

The singer also told the Evening News he was now looking to showing his fans the "real Storm".

"Bosses wanted me to have a much more glamorous image on the show and I think that the real me was lost in translation.

"The whole thing was very alien to me and it felt a bit like getting a new job - I didn't want to say 'no' to anything. I thought it could've been a good platform, but there were a lot of divided opinions about me."

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Storm is now planning to move back to the UK to pursue his music career.

He said: "I made a surprise visit to Glasgow on Friday night to support a Mary's Meals event, which offers deprived schoolchildren a hot meal every day, then I came to Edinburgh the next day. I was completely mobbed on Princes Street by people who wanted a photograph taken or wanted to tell me they had voted to keep me in. It was overwhelming."

He added: "I watched the show for the first time last week and it's incredible how we are edited. It's weird watching when you know so much about these people behind the scenes.

"It's a tough, confusing experience. Straight after you're voted off, you have to leave the house. You're ripped away from the friends you've made and left to digest everything that's happened.

"I wanted to evolve on the show, change my hair, put on a smart suit, sing a ballad." I do feel I went too early."

Rubbishing rumours that he felt fellow contestant Katie Waissel was fame hungry and fake, he revealed that the pair had in fact been in a relationship.

Storm, who was once openly gay, said: "We were off for a while, but I think we're back on now. We've agreed to wait until after the show, then see."

Today Storm is recording a charity Christmas single with the other X Factor finalists in London. After that, his plan is to perform a few gigs around the UK, including one in Edinburgh.

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He is also hoping to play Edinburgh's, or Glasgow's, Hogmanay celebrations.

He said: "To play in Princes Street Gardens is a dream. When I was little I used to break in and sneak up on to that stage at night, then I'd pretend I was performing to a huge crowd."