Dermot O'Leary wants to find X-Factor talent by bringing auditions to Dundee V&A


With its showpiece V&A, some would say Dundee already has the X factor . But Dermot O’Leary would like to go one further by bringing TV’s most famous singing show to the city.

The X Factor presenter was in the City of Discovery this month to launch this year’s National Television Awards.

Despite falling ratings, Dermot is convinced there is still plenty of life in X Factor. But it needs to keep changing with the times. And one way to keep it fresh might be to take it on the road.

Dermot said: “We took The X Factor to Manchester a couple of years ago and it went down a storm. It’s two-fold – it’s getting the people there and it’s how big a room you could get.

“At the same time, you would never just want to do it at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow or something. If you want to get out, you want to get out.

“For The X Factor, if we got to somewhere like Newcastle, there’s no reason we can’t come up to somewhere like Dundee.”

The 2018 X-factor squad

 

Dermot, 45, has hosted the talent show for 11 years, apart from a break in 2015. An average of 5.5million viewers tuned in to watch Dalton Andre Harris win the 2018 final. The ratings are far down on the show’s heyday but Dermot insists X Factor is still hitting the right note with viewers.

He said: “The format is the format. It’s a singing show. There is so much commented on the ratings but we still consolidate to about seven or eight million at the end of every week. For a show that has been going for 15 years, that’s good business.

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“We only want to be making it while people want to watch it and the way the show is watched now is completely different from when I first started out and I think that’s important.

“The idea of overnights and panicking how many people watched the shows – we don’t worry about any of that.

“Obviously, you want to do well because it makes you feel relevant and when you are doing event television, it makes you feel like you are hitting home, I suppose. But you can’t worry too much about it.”

He’s mindful that the way people watch X Factor has changed dramatically, too, giving an example of a colleague’s father who came to a show and told him he was viewing most of it on YouTube.

Dermot added: “If I’ve got a gruff, rough 65-year-old Yorkshireman watching the show on YouTube, the chances are we’ve got to re-categorise how we look at that show and how it is being viewed.”

The presenter travelled to Dundee to launch the NTAs at the V&A – with a little help from Beano characters Dennis the Menace and Gnasher. The awards ceremony itself will be broadcast from the O2 Arena in London on January 22. But Dermot said he would like to see the NTAs, as well as X Factor, coming from cities like Dundee.

 

Tavelling round the country is something he has also advocated for Soccer Aid, the celebrity charity football match that sees England take on The Rest of the World – with Hampden high on his list of venues.

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Dermot added: “I have been asked, ‘Would you take the NTAs out of London?’ Ideally, it would still be at the Royal Albert Hall for the NTAs but it only does 5000. We do 12,000 at the NTAs.

“I have been saying to the Soccer Aid guys, I think we should do Hampden one year or the Principality stadium in Wales or go over to Ireland. It’s hugely
important.”

No matter where the various show is broadcast from, Dermot is very much staying put on X Factor.

He took over from Kate Thornton in 2004 when the judges were Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue and the winner was West Lothian’s Leon Jackson. Only Simon remains from the original judging panel line-up and although Dermot had a year out, he is part of the fabric of the show.

He said: “You can’t do the job that I do if you don’t love it. People aren’t stupid – they can spot it. You can spot it a mile away if you are just going through the numbers.

“I don’t want to do that, so if it ever happens, I’ll knock it on the head. I probably love doing that show more now than I ever have done and that’s a combination of knowing my parameters and knowing my space and also Simon. He’s never once said to me, ‘Don’t say that in the script’. If anything, he’s said, ‘Give me a harder time’. He’s a very supportive boss.

“I think about what I’d like to do next but you can’t really have a grand plan because the shows I’ve done which have been successful have come from serendipity, hard work and luck.”

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Along with X Factor, Dermot juggles other interests, not the least the NTAs, his Saturday morning show on Radio2 and a new series of radio talk show specials.

He’s even mooting a tongue-in-cheek idea to get together all the people who didn’t win X Factor but are now working in the music industry.

The presenter added: “I’d like to do a one-off for Christmas, almost like The Magnificent Seven. I’m like Yul Brynner and I go out there and get Eoghan Quigg and Diana Vickers and we can do a one-off special.”

Much the same vibe surrounds another interest – a ninja cat.

Dermot, who is married to Norwegian producer and director Dee Koppang O’Leary, has written two books in a children’s series called Toto the Ninja Cat, based on his own moggie.

He said: “My third book will be out this year. They are all based around my cat. We got her from Italy. We came back and realised quite quickly that she was blind but she has incredible reactions.

“We extrapolated that and turned her into a kids’ book about a blind Italian ninja cat whose best friend is a rat with species identity issues – it’s inclusive.”

Even Simon would approve.





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