Entertainment Press Releases Monday September 3, 2018 16:06
Bangkok--3 Sep--TQPR
The X Factor returns to Blue Ant Entertainment this 2 September with a brand-new panel.
Robbie Williams, Ayda Williams and Louis Tomlinson join show creator Simon Cowell as judges for The X Factor series 15.
Robbie is a global superstar who has won 18 BRIT Awards - more than any other artist in history – and has sold more than 75 million records during his solo career.

He has been playing to sold out stadiums across the world over the past 18 months on his The Heavy Entertainment Show Tour which has seen him perform to more than 1.25 million fans across the UK, Europe and Australasia. Robbie released the platinum-selling The Heavy Entertainment Show album in November 2016 which debuted at No.1 on the Official UK album chart, giving him his 12th No.1 solo album.

Ayda the actress, presenter and wife to Robbie for eight years - will be competing with her husband to be the winning judge on this year's show. As well as enjoying a successful acting career on US TV, Ayda has an invaluable inside take on how the music industry works and knows first-hand what it takes to forge a successful entertainment career. It is the first time ever on The X Factor UK that a husband and wife have been judges.

Louis is the first judge to have also been a contestant on the show. As a member of One Direction he has sold more than 150 million records worldwide and achieved more than 100 global No.1s. One Direction were the biggest selling UK act globally for three consecutive years and in 2013 they were overall the biggest selling act in the world.

As a solo artist, Louis' single Back To You hit No.1 on iTunes in 53 territories and has sold more than 2.4 million units globally to date. This month, Louis won Choice Male Artist at the US Teen Choice Awards 2018. Earlier this year, Louis won the 2018 iHeartRadio award for Best Solo Breakout. Louis is currently recording his debut solo album.

Dermot O'Leary returns as host of The X Factor for his eleventh year. As ever he will be on hand to offer contestants words of advice and his coveted hugs.
Whilst Sharon Osbourne will return to the judging panel for the live shows.
This series will see the return of the arena auditions at The SSE Arena, Wembley, in front of the judges and a 4,000 strong audience.
Should they get more than three 'yeses' they will go through to the judge's deliberation, where the judges will decide who gets to fight for a seat in the Six Chair Challenge.

This year each of our judges has one guaranteed Safe Seat to give in the Six Chair Challenge by pressing a Golden X. The judge can only press the Golden X for one act in their own category. It means the act cannot be swapped out of their chair and they'll go straight through to Judges' Houses.

From there, contestants are whittled down for the chance to be on the live shows.

For more than a decade, The X Factor has created superstars and some of the biggest recording artists worldwide. Artists discovered by The X Factor UK have sold more than 400 million records worldwide, making it the most successful show in history for finding chart superstars. The programme's unprecedented legacy includes chart-topping acts such as the global sensation One Direction, who have sold more than 150 million records worldwide; GRAMMY(R)-nominated superstar Leona Lewis; 2012 winner James Arthur, whose single Say You Won't Let Go has gone multi-platinum in both the UK and the US and has, to date, sold more than 12.7 million copies worldwide; multi-platinum solo artist Olly Murs; and Little Mix, who were the first group to win the competition and have gone on to become the biggest girl band in the UK, selling more than 45 million records worldwide. The groups' latest, triple-platinum album Glory Days, the biggest selling female album of 2017 in the UK, spent five weeks at No.1, the most for a girl group since The Spice Girls in 1997.

Rak-Su's 2017 winner's duet Dimelo, with Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy, debuted at No.2 in the Official Charts. During the week of release, the four-piece had five songs in the Top Ten on iTunes simultaneously, including the No.1 spot. The group was also the first ever X Factor act to have had three No.1 singles on iTunes while being on the show, including original tracks Mona Lisa and I'm Feeling You. Rak-Su released collaboration track Pyro Ting (feat. Banx and Ranx) in June 2018, they toured the UK with Little Mix on their stadium tour Summer Hits Tours and are currently working on new music.

Blue Ant Entertainment is available in Thailand on True Visions 337 and AIS Play.
How does it feel to be an X Factor judge after years of watching it from the comfort of your sofa at home?

It's the most fun I've ever had in showbusiness hands down, full stop. I just can't believe I've never done it before. In a weird way the pressure is off. When you appear on TV shows like The X Factor doing promotion you're being judged. Now we're doing the judging. I feel like I've found a new lease of life, I love working with my wife and it's just fun. It's brought a whole lot of fun back to my job.

What do you think you bring to the panel this year?

It's a difficult question to answer because we are the panel. I think it's an answer people can only give if they are on the outside of it. Also, it feels like we've only been here five minutes, I haven't seen us on camera yet. I don't know how it works on TV but I do feel that instantly the chemistry was great between us. What do we bring that the old judges didn't? I don't know but I'm sure Twitter will tell us!

You said during auditions that telling people "no" was easy when you watched the show on the TV, how does it feel now you're on the panel and looking them in the eye?

The thing is, what I understand now is that we're auditioning too, this is our job. So, our job and our audition takes preference over anyone who is in front of us. You have to be kind and human, but we're here to make good television. Also, we've got to get it right. It's quickly obvious and evident that as a human you can only see so many people before something has to be amazing for it to pique your interest. I've got ADHD and I'm finding that with auditions, the thing that is worst than being terrible is being average. You see a lot of average. There's something about seeing a lot of average, maybe you can be a bit inhumane at times, but you can only do your job as a human!

What is it like working with your wife?

I got together with Ayda 12 years ago, I was having a hiatus from the music industry. I didn't do anything for three years and I loved it. I realised that I just wanted to spend time with my best mate. If I go to work, ultimately I go to work so I can come home and relax with my best friend. If I can go to work with my best friend, then that's the best of both worlds.

Do you think fans are going to get an insight into your marriage?

know what my wife is capable of. I know what we're capable of together so we've just been waiting for the right vehicle to go, 'Check out the Williams!' I think it will be interesting for people to see us together in that way.

What's the biggest thing you've learnt from Simon so far?

The biggest thing I've learnt is that I've got a long way to go before I am as good as him at this job! Look, there have been hundreds of versions of these shows and hundreds of different panels, name me one person who is better than Simon Cowell at this job. He is head and shoulders above everybody, I'm just happy to sit in my seat and see how he does it, see how he forms questions, what he asks. Like I say, I'm learning a lot from him.

How do you rate the talent this year?

I'm a fan of the show and always have been so I like to think I know a bit about what makes for good TV. But I'm finding out more every day. I think we've got a very strong show, from the silliness to the whimsy, to the actual gold plated talent. I think we're covered, I think there's a bit of something for everybody.

Was there anything specific you were looking for?

You know, it's always those unexpected moments, the unspecified bit of magic. I don't think you can write down exactly what that is when it happens. It comes out of the ether and it's incredible. I wasn't expecting anything, I just wanted to be blown away. I can happily say that I have been blown away more than a few times.

How are you feeling about mentoring the contestants and being responsible for their career?

There is a responsibility that comes with mentoring people and helping their career and hopefully not hindering it. I'm auditioning for this show too, so they are mentoring me at the same time, we'll work it out together. If they look good, I look good and vice versa!

Do you think it's harder to launch a career now than when you started?

I don't know, that was last century! This is one hell of a platform though, isn't it? Take That didn't have the option of being seen by ten million people each weekend. If we had have had that option then we would have obviously grabbed it with five sets of hands. As it happens these lucky people will have just that and they should grab the opportunity with both hands and make everything they can from it.

Do you think you can win?
Am I confident I can win? Give me any category and I'm confident I can win!
Welcome Ayda Williams…you're an X Factor judge!
I know. This is totally crazy, I'm on The X Factor!
There's criticism you're not from a musical background, how do you feel about that?

I know that I've helped Rob for 12 years now, I've had to pick him up off the ground and lift him up. I've been part of every song choice for like five albums, every creative for his live shows, his tours, music videos - I feel like I've had enough experience with his career and my own career to make a difference with these contestants.

It sounds like you're the brains behind Robbie…

Well, I don't want to say I'm the brains, but…I am the brains! I think I have very strong instincts and Rob trusts those instincts. I'm very passionate. With Rob, I think I'm also not afraid to tell him when I don't like something. He's in a position where a lot of people could tell him they like something even if they don't. I am always incredibly straight forward, I say it with compassion but I stick to my word and carry it through.

You can also tag team on Simon if you want!

I mean, we would just pick on Simon no matter what! I think Louis' now part of our team and picking on Simon too. Simon is just too easy to pick on because he's like Doctor Evil and our boss, so you have to pick on him. You can't just let him slide with some of his stuff. We've started to pick up on Simon's game, if we say something smart or have an idea, Simon repeats it and knows his version will make the edit. So now I keep trying to clump myself with Simon so he can't edit me out. I mean, we've got to take Simon down, Doctor Evil can't win all the time.

You've brought out the competitive side in Simon…

We're really naughty with each other and the other day he made me say some really random things on the show about milking sheep, he made me say it. I'm like, 'I can't believe you're making me do this', but it's fun because we're all vibing off each other, we have a really nice chemistry. Louis and I keep referring to each other as the good people on the panel, the kind ones, we're book ended by two Doctor Evils!

Would you say you've learnt anything from Simon?

Listen, he's great at the job. It's so frustrating because he's always right, well, 99% of the time. You really can't fault him. His music choice is really great and giving people their moment. I watch the way his mind works, how he starts putting people together and just the way he thinks about things is really inspiring. I'm learning so much.

You had a lot of fun at the auditions, including twerking in front of the nation…

Gosh, I was so worried about how that twerk would come off because I don't have a booty. Those girls had booties for days! Do you know what, that's what I love about auditions, there's such a variety of talent. They were really walking me through it and I felt really proud to learn how to twerk! I think Teddy will be really excited to know her mummy can twerk! Well, twerk-ish!

What did you think about Blobbie Williams a chubby impersonator of your husband?
Blobbie Williams looked eerily like my husband, I'm not going to lie. It was like looking into the future, if he has a year of pies then this is now my husband, Blobbie.
What's your message to the other judges as the competition hots up?

My message to the other judges is watch out! I'm coming for you like a hungry wolf, don't underestimate me. Listen, it's the year of the woman, dude. I'm going to give these boys the biggest surprise of their lives. They think they've got it because they were in Take That or One Direction or because they have been running the show for 20 years. No, the underdog is coming to take the prize! I'm very excited.

How did Simon convince you to join the show?

It wasn't that hard to convince me, I've been a big fan of the show, even before I was on it myself. I think it was maybe two or three years ago that I started coming down to the show of my own accord and helped Simon with his acts on routining days in the studio. I found that really exciting. So as soon as I realised I could do both my own music and judge at the same time, it was a bit of a no brainer for me.

What do you make of Ayda?

I think she's been amazing and done an absolutely incredible job. I sit next to her and for the first couple of days we were the good ones on the panel and let Robbie and Simon be the bad guys! I think she just brings a lot of empathy and a lot of understanding. She looks at things from a people's perspective rather than an artist or manager. She loves music and has been with Robbie a long time so she's seen a lot of things, I imagine.

What was it like sitting on the panel for the first time having started your journey standing on the stage?

On the first day it was as surreal for me as the contestants auditioning. It was a proud moment for me, definitely. I think it also helps having me there, I don't think they have ever had anyone on the panel who has auditioned for the show. I feel a duty of care, I want to help people out.

You marked the eighth anniversary of One Direction during auditions, how has your life changed since that moment?
All our lives changed completely that day, that's the magic of this show. It's always been the power of this show that one audition can totally change your life.
How competitive are you?

I'm really competitive, I really am. I hadn't really thought about it until the last couple of days of auditions. It was only then that it dawned on me that this is a competition and I'd like to win it! I really would like to win! This is my first year and I've been all nice and friendly with the other judges until now, now I reckon it's on and I've got a good chance of winning!

How are you feeling about the pressure of mentoring an act in such a public arena?

I'm relishing that pressure, I can't wait to get into it. It's always been an interest to me, the development of artists. What excites me about The X Factor and getting my own category is really getting stuck into the creative, really trying to use my experience over the years to help new artists.

Are you up for causing some mischief during the live shows?

Oh absolutely, I always like live TV. It always makes my team around me, my management, a bit worried, which makes it more entertaining for me! Simon's clever at saying the right thing, if one of us on the panel says something good he just repeats it and passes it off as his own. But when it comes to the live shows I'm going to enjoy winding him up!

Will you join forces with Robbie?
Well, it's all a bit competitive now, it's each to their own! It's dog eat dog out there.
Who wants to win the most out of Robbie and Ayda?
That's a tough one. I think Ayda would enjoy it more. I hope she wins rather than Robbie!
What's your message to the other judges as the competition hots up?
I just hope that they realise I am in it to win it and so is my category. I'll be using my resources and my experience that I've gained over the last eight years to do exactly that.
Here we go again for another series and it looks like you've been having the best time during auditions…

I've had more fun during auditions than I have had in years! The new panel have been great and I love doing auditions in front of an audience. I just can't understand why we never seem to do that, it's the weirdest thing. You sit in a small room and someone's great and literally nothing happens. In the arena when it's a good audition they go nuts and that's what they want.

Are you looking for a star this year or good entertainment?
You have to do both. I think the show has got to find a star, you hope to find someone who sells records but the show has to be fun as well.
Changing the panel is always a risk, now you've seen them in action, was it a risk worth taking?

It was one of those years that I knew we had to make a change, for sure. It just happens, particularly on this show. What I love about Louis, Robbie and Ayda is that they are all fans of the show in their own way, and of course Louis started out on the show. Robbie's been a huge part of the show over the years, it's how we became friends, and Ayda has been a revelation, I mean, seriously, she's been brilliant.

There's been criticism over Ayda joining the show, do you think that's unfair?

I   can name you on one hand the good managers I know, you don't have to be a music manager or an artist to be on this show. You have to have taste, good instincts, you have got to like people. The irony is that the public actually judge this competition. Ayda has seen the music business from a different point of view so she brings a different perspective to the panel. I think she's amazing.

What does Louis bring to the panel?

Louis, out of all of the lads in One Direction, was always the one who would still come down to the show during rehearsal days to give advice to the new contestants. We've had a really good friendship over the years and have talked for a long time about him doing the show. This year he felt comfortable to do it. Seeing someone who has gone through the process I just think is brilliant.

Who's the naughtiest out of the three new judges?
Oh, Robbie by a mile! But so is Ayda actually, she's really funny.
What's the talent like this year?

I always compare the talent to where I was a year ago. I remember a year ago thinking, 'We're struggling in certain categories'. I think this year every category has got a potential star, some of them are really raw, which I like. Personality is going to be key this year. But you just don't know on this show, someone you expect to be great might not turn out to be and equally someone you least expect can rise to the challenge. That's the way it goes.

It seems like the auditions are less intense, there are more of the 'characters' fans have loved watching in the past…
Yeah, it's definitely not as tense as last year. Last year was hard work, it ended well but god it was a slog, I tell you. We need the characters to keep it entertaining.
Fans will see the return of Anthony Russell who Louis' been helping personally for the last year…

I knew that Louis had reached out to help him with his demons a long time ago. I think it says a lot about the kind of person Louis is, he doesn't brag about it, he doesn't talk about it, it's a very personal thing for him. He called me when he saw Anthony's audition last year and said his story had really touched him and he wanted me to put him in touch with him. Louis genuinely looked after him. Louis didn't know Anthony was going to come back to the show this year, he just did it because he liked him. It's a side a lot of people are going to find out about Louis, he's a really kind, generous guy, he really is.

Which category do you think is the strongest this year?

The older category this year is really strong. Over the past few years it hasn't been great or it's been a bit boring. There are some amazing people in that category this year, I don't know what happened. There are a couple of groups with real potential, there are a couple of girls and guys I'm excited about too. I'd say each category has got one, two or three really good people.

Who is your musical crush?
My musical crush is Frank Sinatra. I just love everything about him, his voice, he was really cool. I just love him.
What did you think when you heard Ayda, Robbie and Louis were joining?
Every judge comes in and brings their own strengths. I've been really impressed with the new judges this year.

It's always odd when you lose people because you get to know them very well. I'm not going to lie, you miss the people you were working with before because you worked with them for so long and they're your friends. At the same time people always say to me, 'What's your favourite judging panel?'. It's so difficult for me to answer the question because they are like wine. I've got several favourite wines, and similarly the judging panel is all about the blend!

So how do they blend?

The interesting thing to watch is the Simon and Robbie dynamic because it's the first time we've had two Alpha males, which is always a worry because you don't want them to be just clashing right from the start. They haven't been clashing at all because they've both got different skill sets. Robbie brings that brilliant mix of wisdom and insanity with him. He still defers toSimon as we all do because he's the boss, but he's his own man. For me that's important with all the judges. My job is I'll question what they say and how they say it. I'll either agree with something they say, disagree with something they say, but never ever question their validity to be on the panel.

I think Louis brings a brilliant energy, you can't argue with his credentials. He's been there, he's done it. There's a real commonality when you see his interaction with the contestants, especially young kids going on stage, and they look down and they see someone who, to his credit, didn't have the easiest time at the start on The X Factor. He has a unique insight and an experience that no one else can possibly imagine because not only has it been a success, it's been a success that's turned him into one of the biggest global artists of all time.

Then there'sAyda, she is terrific because she's a great support to Robbie. Ayda knows that she's got to sell herself to the British public. I've been so impressed with her. She knows the business inside-out. Showbusiness is showbusiness whether you're a host, an actor or whether you're a singer. It's the same in many ways, the same skill sets being a performer apply. She's been in the industry for the best part of 20 years and she's been married to Robbie for years, she knows what it's like to live with an artist and she knows the industry inside out.

Fans are going to get an insight into Ayda and Robbie's marriage. What's it been like watching them from the sidelines?

The great thing for me is that Ayda scores points off him and Robbie just takes it! I think that's really cool. There's a real playfulness between them but then there's so much love between them. They'll get up and start dancing together, sometimes it's like we are in their front room. Behind the scenes, what's been wonderful is that everyone's kids are there. Eric has been hanging out at auditionsand Robbie and Ayda's kids have come down too along with grandparents and dogs! I know it sounds like a cliche but it has changed the vibe backstage, it feels more like a family environment.

Looking at the talent this year, it seems like the show has a few more characters rather than taking itself too seriously…

We are a way to get into the industry and what's amazing is the fact that a plumber, a carpenter, an office worker can come and audition for us because they always fancied and wanted to be a singer. Now, actually we have so many singers that come with a very clear sense of who they are, we've got to embrace that. But I think it's important that we're there to give everyone a springboard. I think we're at the point now where you can have characters but the characters have to be able to sing. I think that's what's been interesting this year.

One contestant had the whole panel in tears, what was it like watching that audition unfold from the sidelines?

I think for me, it was one of the most emotional moments I've seen in auditions. Everyone has had grief, it's a very powerful emotion but I think it says a lot for him that that performance didn't spill over too much. It wasn't laced with sentimentality. It was quite raw. Every now and again you see a contestant whose story properly hits home.

Then there was another great moment when Janice Robinson from Livin' Joy turned up and just brought the house down…

It was one of those great arena moments! I am a fan of the room auditions because I like to see the progression from the room to the arena to judge's houses, but you can't deny the impact when a good audition hits home with a live audience and that's why Simon wanted to go back into the arenas.

Looking to the live shows are you going to embrace the chaos that Robbie and Ayda are going to bring?

I'm wondering how that's going to work as well! I'm starting to think about it. They will probably end up being very naughty, but none of that bothers me. As long as I know where I'm going then chaos can happen and I'm happy to let it breathe.

Do you think they bring the competitiveness out in Simon?

The environment is playful, but I think it'll be interesting to see how competitive they all get as the show goes on. Right now, up until today in fact, there's no competition really, but then as it goes it gets more interesting, especially when new people have come in because they really want to win on their first year!

Who do you think wants to win the most out of these four?

I'd say right now no one's that worried, but I think when it kicks in Robbie's ego will - It'll be a brilliant achievement for either to win. Louis is not going to just want to be a slouch, is he? Then the boss always wants to win everything.

Blue Ant Entertainment

Blue Ant Entertainment is a general entertainment channel with the best mix of reality, drama, comedy, and daily programmes. Featuring hit series such as Siren, Bull; competition series The X Factor UK; dailies airing express and day-and-date with the U.S. and U.K. markets, including: Entertainment Tonight, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show with James Corden. The channel also airs box office classics and 'LIVE' broadcasts some of the biggest award shows in the world, including The Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, American Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards.

Blue Ant Media

Blue Ant Media is a privately held, international content producer, distributor and channel operator. From our production houses around the world, we create content for multiple genres including factual, factual entertainment, short-form digital series and kids programming. Our distribution business, Blue Ant International, offers a catalogue of 3,000+ hours of content, including the largest 4K natural history offering on the market. Blue Ant Media's international channel business offers a portfolio of media brands such as Love Nature (International), ZooMoo Networks (International), Smithsonian Channel Canada, BBC Earth (Canada), Blue Ant Entertainment (International), Blue Ant Extreme (International) and HGTV (New Zealand). Blue Ant Media is headquartered in Toronto, with operations in Los Angeles, Singapore, Auckland, Dunedin, London, Washington, Sydney, Beijing and Taipei.

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