The current leading lady of BBC Radio 1Xtra, Sarah-Jane Crawford is one of the most popular figures in UK radio, holding record audience figures for the Monday to Friday afternoon timeslot. Sarah hosted
the backstage coverage of BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, and then fronted BBC Three’s coverage of ‘T in the Park’ alongside Greg James. In the last few years, Sarah-Jane has begun to explore the world of DJing, taking to the decks in some of the world’s most trendsetting cities including Warsaw, New York, Los Angeles, St. Tropez and Hong Kong. This is Sarah Jane’s first year as presenter on The Xtra Factor.
Congratulations on the new job! How excited are you about your new role?
I’m so excited about the new role. It’s a dream job. When I found out I was at the gym getting a protein shake and my agent called me and told me I got the job, I screamed and everyone thought I had bought a dodgy protein shake. I just keep reminding myself to enjoy it while it’s happening rather than thinking ahead to the live shows.
What are you most excited about?
There are so many elements to this job that it’s difficult to pin point what I’m most excited about. It’s exciting to meet the auditionees because you’re potentially meeting the winner or a big star… You don’t know where they’re going to end up. I’m excited about judges’ houses because why wouldn’t you be
excited to travel to glamorous locations around the world. And ultimately I’m really excited about the live shows because I’m a massive fan of the show.
How do you think Xtra Factor will be different from previous series?
I just think it will be sassy, there’s going to be way more banter. I’ve got the opportunity to bounce off the new judges and I think this year there’ll be lots more music credibility, we all really know our stuff. And of course the return of Simon and Cheryl which you cannot beat!
Before joining the show you were a massive fan of the series – who’s your favourite contestant from over the years?
As a massive fan I have watched every series, one of my favourite contestants was Ray Quinn… I don’t know what it was about him. I used to work on a door of a club on Saturday nights so I couldn’t watch
the final that year and I remember not wanting anyone to tell me. I made it to Sunday evening and was sat on the sofa, I felt like it was live and then one of my friends text me and said ‘Thank God that
Ray didn’t win.’
What’s it been like working with the judges? Have you learnt anything surprising or interesting about any of them?
Working with the judges is fascinating. Simon Cowell is such a fascinating person. He is the kind of guy who would win a poker game every time because you never know what’s going on. I’m always trying to find out more info. I’ve found out that Simon’s dogs get more retweets and favourites than a Twitter post about me which we did together, which was really annoying. I’ve found out that Cheryl knows her
hip hop from when she recited Kayne West lyrics to me. Mel B loves a bit of Boot Camp…. she is really fit. And Louis is a massive fan of art.
Did Dermot give you any advice before you started?
I love Dermot! It wasn’t so much advice, just more reassurance just saying ‘how is it going’. He’s always got nicknames for everyone. He basically taught me the Dermot hug… there’re 3 different kinds of hugs. I go more for the high five though because I don’t want to rip off the Dermot hug.
What have been your stand-out moments from the auditions tour so far?
There’s a girl band who came in with their own song, their own t-shirts and there’s something about them - they’ve got massive potential so I can’t wait to see their journey. They’re not completely polished but they’re so young and they created this amazing track. Another stand out moment includes baby oil and someone doing a tribute to Peter Andre with Mysterious Girl, that was very fun. And the lady who did a poem about the judges. Let’s just say I came out alright, but Simon didn’t.
Do you ever find yourself disagreeing with the judges’ decisions when you watch the auditions?
Yes! They are hardcore this year, they are not at all just letting anyone through. Even people who are amazing, they’re still unsure about. There’s no one in particular but they all have their moments. Simon is obviously harsh and Cheryl is a lot more hardcore this year and Mel– that’s just her personality. She is always like ‘you better impress me’.
As a viewer what is your favourite stage of the show to watch?
Honestly, every element - the way it’s broken down. The room auditions are very special when it’s just the contestants and the judges and when I watch back some of the contestants - I did it with Sam Bailey - there’s just something magical about knowing how someone’s very first audition went. Judges’
houses, it’s very exciting to see where they go and the live shows - you don’t even need to explain that. Live is my favourite form of TV - anything can happen.
Are there any types of contestants or auditions that make you cringe?
Where someone performs one of the judges songs to them. We’ve had lots of Spice Girls and Cheryl numbers and you just think ‘no!’ Or judges’ houses, I remember one year a contestant sang Ne-Yo to Ne-Yo, and I loved the contestant but I did cringe.
What sort of acts would you like to see more of on the show?
People that tick every box. So I don’t necessarily want to see someone with an amazing talent but they’re boring. A perfect pop star, with the swag and the looks and the vocals to match.
Which artist out there at the moment best sums up what the X Factor is all about for you?
Ella Eyre is one. She’s got a great voice and she’s got a credible music background in terms of the types of records she puts out and she looks brilliant.
What are your strategies to get the most gossip for the Xtra Factor?
It was going to be to take all the judges out for drinks and get to know them better, but actually they’re giving me quite a lot so I don’t think I need a strategy.
'The X Factor' begins this Saturday and Sunday at 8pm on itv in the UK and TV3 in Ireland. 'The Xtra Factor' is airing a week long run of special shows at 8pm every night this week on itv2, before the new series kicks off on Saturday night after the main show.