The X Factor 2016 commences on Saturday, and Sharon Osbourne is happy to be back!
How does it feel to be back on the show?
It feels really right to be back at this time, it feels good. Simon said he wanted the show to be back to the way it was, small audition rooms, he wanted everyone to have fun. Listen, we’re all competitive with one another because we all want to win, nobody wants to sit there the last few weeks with no one in your category, but at the same time, we’re not so badly competitive. We want to take it seriously but at the same time enjoy what we’re doing and have fun on camera and off air too.
Did you have any reservations about coming back?
I didn’t have any reservations about doing the show but just about coming back to England and whether people really wanted me here or not. It was like, is it right for me to come back because it’s been a long time since I have really spent any length of time here? I just wondered whether it’s really right, whether I am wanted by the public, not by Simon or the network, but by the public.
Have you managed to catch anything of the show while you’ve been away?
No, nothing, so I really am coming back to it with fresh eyes.
Was there anything you wanted to change about the show from when you were on it last time?
Not really, no. I just want it to be fun. I think if we’re having fun then the people at home will have fun. If they see that you are really into it and love doing what you do, then it really comes off. You can’t fool the public, they are way too smart.
You’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Simon, how are you two getting on?
It’s just fantastic, it’s been really great. It’s been better than I thought it would have ever been, really. It’s been 13 years, that’s a long time since the beginning of this show. It’s great to see how we’ve all changed, but changed for the better.
How has Simon changed since you last worked with him on the show?
For me he’s back to the Simon who laughs a lot. He’s got a very naughty sense of humour, he’s so funny. He’s letting that side come through, he’s not so uptight about everything. You know, I get it, he’s got huge responsibilities, it’s his show, his production company, everything, so he’s got huge responsibilities. But I think because we’re 13 years down the line, he’s much more relaxed about it, which is nice, for him and for us!
Has fatherhood changed him?
How can it not? But it’s changed him in a really nice, cool, way. He’s a really cool guy.
Can fans still expect you two to fight though?
Yeah of course, because I am older than him! I can tell him what to do, he can’t take that off others, you know he’s had some gorgeous women on the panel but no one has been in that position where they are older and can say, ‘No!’. He accepts it from me.
Is part of the success of this panel that you’re all not afraid to stand up to Simon?
I think so, you’ve got the three of us back together and then Nicole, she’s always been a friend of mine. I had her at my Judge’s House years ago. So she’s been a friend for years, Simon’s worked with her in America, Louis’ worked with her, so she’s an old friend to everyone. It really works.
Do you think you’ve changed since becoming a grandmother?
It’s the best thing that has happened to me in the last five years, it’s just been amazing. I’ve a four-year-old granddaughter and a one-year-old granddaughter and they are just the light of my life. They really are. Before I left for this trip I was like, ‘Right, I have to go and say goodbye to the kids!’. They are like, ‘Nana, why are you going? Why do you have to work?’, they are so sweet.
Has it changed the way you judge people?
I don’t think it’s changed the way I judge because always when I judge I think: ‘What would I do if this was my kid?’. I always think of them on that level. As soon as they tell me their age I’m like, ‘OK!’, and a part of you softens. It also goes to the way you judge because sometimes you do have these kids who have a dream and they are never going to see that through because they don’t have whatever it is, in your heart you know they are never going to have it. It’s not my job but in the nicest possible way you want to go, ‘Oh baby, it’s just not for you’. Then you feel responsible and want to know if they are good at school, do they have a job, are they okay? You feel responsible. It’s terrible when a lot of the contestants are so young, you don’t want them to waste any more time on a dream but at the same time you don’t want to shatter their dream either.
There was a contestant who stormed auditions in Manchester, what did you think about that?
When she first came in I was a bit frightened actually. She walked in and came right over to the desk and I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, alert, alert!’. But she was ballsy! It takes a lot to do that.
One male contestant decided to strip for you, was that a good thing or a bad thing?
Oh my lord! I kind of felt sorry for him because he wasn’t that great but he bothered to do the stripping and all the dancing, balancing on one hand, everything. I’m like, ‘Yes you’re through, please stop now, seriously, please stop!’.
There was another contestant who fascinated you…
Oh my lord, the living doll! And guess what, I insulted her! It would be me who insults her! I said to her, ‘Tell me, do dolls have sex?’, and she goes, ‘That’s not an appropriate question to ask!’. So I remember her, but I thought she didn’t really look like a doll. Years ago they used to have these crochet covers for the toilet roll, she looked like a toilet roll cover!
You’ve also seen a girl who’s the spitting image of Adele…
There was a lovely girl in Manchester who had lost a lot of weight and looked like Adele. She had a great personality, a lovely girl. I remember her voice, she’s a very good contestant.
Do you think there are some global stars on the show this year?
There are a couple of girls and one guy, they are really phenomenal. It’s very exciting. I’m not going to say which category I want because I know I’ll end up with the groups and I can’t have groups. I couldn’t cope, it’s too much, I’m too old for all those people, I can only deal with three or four! I couldn’t remember everyone’s name, I’d be overwhelmed.
You are not giving up your work in the US while you’re on The X Factor so how are you going to juggle both commitments?
I’m going to leave LA on Thursday, I get in Friday and will go straight to the studio, be there Saturday and Sunday, then Monday morning I film with the contestants and Monday afternoon I fly home. It honestly doesn’t worry me, I’m kind of a traveller anyway, I’m always travelling somewhere. It’s just that this trip is a long trip, but I can handle it.
That’s bound to lead to criticism that you’re not around for your acts as much as the other judges, what do you say to that?
It’s all about Skype, everything’s on Skype these days. You might as well be in the room with them, so it’s not like they can’t sing for me or show me their routine or something they don’t like. It’s very simple.
What are you most excited about the live shows?
I just love the live shows because you never know what’s going to happen. We had a contestant last time I was on, young, gorgeous, but could never remember the lyrics. So we’d be like, ‘Is she going to do it? Is she going to remember?’ We were all on tenterhooks. Boom, no, she lost it again! So you never know what’s going to happen, it’s very exciting. Also, you never know what the other judges are going to say. So I love the live shows the best.
Are you going to be naughty?
That’s where I get my revenge! It’s like bring it on, say what you want because I’ll remember it for when we go live!
Is Louis your partner in crime?
Oh yes! Nothing can stop that one! I do write naughty notes. When people come in I’ll write notes and pass them on to him and he’s like, ‘Stop it!’.
What about your trademark water throwing, will we see that?
It depends because you never know what’s going to happen. That’s what’s so good! I think everyone wants to win, no one wants to be left with no one in their category, you feel like a loser sat there every week and you have no one, so you’re just turning up and being a spare part. No one wants that so of course you want your category to be the best.
Have you thought about your outfits for the live shows?
Oh my lord, that’s all I think about! I’m working on it now! I swear to God, as soon as the deal was done and I was going to do the show, I was like, ‘Right, what am I going to wear on the live shows?’, so I am already working on it. I love getting dressed up, any excuse! There will be a lot of all-in-one pants and tops with different jackets. I love that look.
What do you make of the music industry at the moment?
It’s so terribly different, but I think you will always have your classic artists who break through. That person who’s a great entertainer, great singer, great dancer, got great stage presence. Acts like Bruno Mars because he does it all, to me he’s like Michael Jackson, he’s amazing. So you’ll always have that talent that comes through, like Adele. They are not the sort of artists who are the current taste of the day, they have longevity with their careers, they’ll be making albums in 15 or 20 years, if they still want to. A lot of the music today is very disposable. You’re not going to hear it in 10 years time. Of course you have your classic bands like Coldplay who are the best of British, and Muse who are brilliant. They are stand out bands from England which are great.
Being a Brit in the US, are you proud when UK artists make it over there?
I’m always so proud and British artists have always done so well over there. Go back in time, go back to the 60s and that tastemaker has always come from England. It’s unbelievable that we’re still doing it, it’s great.
Is there a gap in the market?
There’s always a gap for someone who is hugely talented. I would like to see a boy/girl singing group. I think there is definitely a gap for that.
Why do you think Simon’s so good at spotting new talent?
He’s lucky in the position where he’s been doing it in America and over here, he sees so much coming through, so much talent day in, day out, comes past him. He’s got that eye for knowing what the public want at that time.
Do you think you would have had the career that you have had if you were starting out now?
Probably because I am kind of ballsy, I would still have been that ballsy person, where it’s like, ‘I’ll show you! I don’t give up, I’ll keep knocking on that door’. I’ve been blessed that I have worked with some incredible artists, true artists who are great writers with great talent. I’m only on their coat tails, I’m only as good as the artist. You work for them and I have been blessed to work with really incredible, talented people.
See Sharon in action this Saturday on ITV from 8pm.