Cheryl Fernandez-Versini talks about the changes made to this year's judging panel on The X Factor and how the feel of the show has changed. The X Factor can be seen Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8pm on ITV.
You seem much more confident on the panel this year, what’s different about you?
There’s a new energy for sure. I’m quite a sensitive person, in case you haven’t noticed. I’m really drawn to whoever is around me. This time I just feel really free. I have two new people to look after or guide, that’s making me focus more. And I don’t have Louis on the end making me laugh or sending me dodgy notes.
Do you feel like the mother of the panel because you’ve been doing it so long?
I feel like, after 13 years in the industry, I’m a bit more educated on all things in terms of song choices, how the show goes, how it will progress. Beforehand I didn’t know, definitely in my first season because I was only 24 like Rita, I didn’t have a clue how it was going to progress or what was going to happen next. I would put people through then the next time I saw them I was like, ‘Oh!’. This time I’m more aware of what’s to come, what I have seen and how the standard is in each category. I won’t put people through if I think it’s unfair because I know they are not going to get any further. I’m just a bit more aware, alert and focused and, as I said, guiding these two new people. It’s fun.
How have Rita and Nick changed the feel of the show?
They are fresh eyes and they have a fresh way of looking at things. I’m used to seeing an audition in this environment, especially in an arena, which is unusual. It’s better for Rita and me in a way because we’ve stood on that stage, we know what it looks like from that perspective as well as the other. Grimmy’s coming from the point of view of, ‘Will I play this record?’, which is so important, especially in this day and age, airplay is so important for an artist to have. I think he’s crucial in his role. Rita and me are performers so we know what they are feeling and then we have got our old veteran, the mogul himself, guiding us. Sometimes if we go a little bit o ff the chart he’s like, ‘OK, back to reality’. We have a mixture of everything, it’s just fresh and it feels new.
There has been criticism of Nick becoming a judge, what do you make of that?
I think there was always going to be someone who was going to be criticised. When I was first announced I replaced Sharon, I remember everyone saying Simon had lost it, he’s crazy, why would you put this girl on because she’s only been doing it six years. There’s always going to be something said about someone. I think Grimmy is going to be a massive revelation. He’s funny, he’s smart, he is actually crucial to what is happening in the music world right now. The shift has gone so far that radio has become more important than ever. He’s in a very important position.
Coming from Radio 1 do you think it’s important for him to find someone credible to play on his show?
I think Grimmy has a good mixture of coming from Radio 1 so looking for credibility, but also being a northerner, he’s just a normal lad. He’s very much a people person, he connects with people on a level. He’s got a good balance of the credibility factor and also being a great, down-to-earth northern lad.
There’s a big age gap now between Simon and the rest of the judges, how has that had an impact?
I think we are giving him energy. We’re teaching him new words, yesterday we were teaching him what ‘on flique’ means, and all the new latest things. Rita’s got her own little thing where she goes, ‘Mash it up, mash it up, mash it up, boom’. Simon said last night, ‘I’m going to mash it up!’. He’s cottoning on! We all respect him though; he’s been many years in the industry, seen all the changes and had a lot of success. You can’t deny the guy’s a genius. There’s a level of respect there, it’s not an age thing, even though we joke about it.
You guys have laughed a lot this series, are you having a lot of fun together?
Maybe more so than we probably should be, to be honest! It’s been a lot of fun.
Nick’s whispering the wrong answers to Rita, is he stitching her up all the time?
She’s going to stop asking him soon! Someone came on the other day and they were from Scotland so she said, ‘Oh, so you’re a scouse?’. Nick was like, ‘No, they’re from Scotland’. It’s becoming a running theme now because every single time he says something she’s either going to stop or she’s going to start asking someone else for the answer because Grimmy is setting her up. And he’s loving it by the way! He’s crying laughing when she answers.
Do you think we’ll see more of Nick and Rita’s personality on this show?
We know Nick’s radio personality but we don’t really know Nick in the flesh, so that will be great. Rita you will only have heard her talking in interviews about music or I guess on The Voice slightly, a little bit, but half as much as we do on this show. So yeah, you are going to see both of their personalities a lot more than you will ever have.
Courtesy of itv