The X Factor UK returns this weekend with a two-hour season premiere tomorrow night on ITV. In anticipation of the 12th season, judges Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, newcomer Nick Grimshaw, and new host Olly Murs (who will co-host with Caroline Flack) participated in a Q&A to discuss some of the changes we can expect this year.
Perhaps the biggest change is that the fans will be the ones to choose which category each judge will mentor. In addition, judges' houses will now be LIVE, as viewers are now able to live tweet their responses to each act as it happens, allowing the judges to take viewer opinions into consideration when choosing their live show acts for 2015. In short, this is a season that's looking to reinvent the franchise.
But what else can we expect from the new season? And how does new judge Rita Ora fit into all of this? How is Louis Walsh handling his departure from the franchise? It's an interesting Q&A, particularly because a sneak peek of the premiere was screened for journalists this week, allowing each of the journalists an informed perspective for their respective questions. Read select excerpts from the Q&A session below:Credit: ITV
We just wondered, have you got any interesting boy bands that maybe we can transfer our One Direction love to, temporarily?
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: There are some really fantastic groups this year. ... There are some boy bands - replacing One Direction, I' m not so sure about, but there are some definite potential coming your way after episode one. So, yes, keep your eyes open. It depends what you're looking for.
Nick Grimshaw: I think there's, like, man band, rather than boy band.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Vocal harmony group.
Nick Grimshaw: Vocal harmony group.
Simon Cowell: Yes.
Nick Grimshaw: Which is less catchy, but true.
Hiya. I was just wondering how your friendship with Rita is different from your friendship to Mel on the panel. (Cat noises) I didn't mean it in that way.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: No, no. That's aimed at me. Don't worry. It's an old joke. Very old, still. (Laughter) My relationship with each female has been very different. Rita's actually been somebody I've been able to engage ? (Cat noises) How's your relationship with Rita, Simon?
Simon Cowell: It's good.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Yes?
Simon Cowell: Yes.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Are you sure?
Simon Cowell: Yes, very good.
Cheryl Fernandez?Versini: No, it's really good. She's really fun. You haven't heard half of her metaphors yet. (Cat noises)
You might hear a strangled cat in about five seconds. (Laughter) No, it's really good. She's really fun to work with, she listens. She is enjoying being with another female because she didn't get that experience on the spinny chair show. So, no. We're having fun together. She's a good girl.
How are you guys feeling about judges' houses going live?
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: I think in a way it's good because you don't have to ponder once you've made your decision because sometimes you make it and then you re?question yourself for ages. Even when you're going home you're like, “Did I make the right decision?” But you've just got no choice. As soon as you've made that choice, it's out there, it's live. I'll be watching Twitter feed to see what everyone else's opinion is. I think it's going to be really interesting and really fun and really good to get people on board and involved, initially, because they're going to choose our category too, so it's going
to be really interesting to see people are invested from that early on in the mentoring and in who gets which category, so I think it will be fun. Then we go straight into live so there is no time in between where they can tell their family and friends, they can automatically express their ? Is he making faces behind my back?
Simon Cowell: I'm not, I'm listening to you.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: They can express their delight as well as we can. Thank you, Simon. You know, being the new exec producer and all that stuff.
Nick Grimshaw: Was that one of your decisions as the new exec producer?
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: It was, actually, yes.
Nick Grimshaw: Yes. It's a good decision, Cheryl.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Thanks, darling.
What, if anything, are you missing about Louis Walsh?
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Nothing. (Laughter) No, that's a joke.
Simon Cowell: The good thing for Louis is he's going to be able to go to bed a bit earlier and he can watch the show in bed in his PJs and he can call me after the show and we've got him a couple of seats in the live shows, restricted viewing, but I'm looking after him.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: He's a really good sport. He came down to our promo and he did the bit? if you've seen the advert at the end where he swept the floor, to show that he's a good sport about it. He is happier, actually, I think, not being on the show.
Nick Grimshaw: He came into, when we were doing that shoot, into the dressing room that me and Rita had and he came in and he was the happiest he's ever been and he was like, “You two do not know
what you have got yourselves into.” He was really happy. He did want there to be a fifth judge. “I think there should be five of us.” (Laughter) And we were like, “Yes.”
Simon Cowell: We'll make him like judge of the week one week or something.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: The week that I'm off.
Simon Cowell: No, we'll do like Boyzone week or something
Nick Grimshaw: Stool week. And we can have everyone on stools.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Key change.
Nick Grimshaw: Yes, key change week.
Simon, you defined one of the contestants as 'joy' in the audition. I just wondered how you'd define each of your people sat up there on the panel with you and then, in turn, how they would then define you in a couple of words.
Simon Cowell: You know, I think it showed when I watched the show back. I really had a good time this year. It was like? it's true, you actually want judges who are there to judge the talent and actually want to find an artist. That's what I noticed when I was working with these guys and looking at Olly and Caroline and these guys at the front, Michelle and Melvin. It was like being on a new show. I'm avoiding your question a bit, but they have been fun. I've had my moments with madame on my right but, overall, I really had a good time this year.
But how would you define them in one word? (Laughter)
Simon Cowell: Unpredictable.
Cheryl Fernandez?Versini: Yes.
I'm not letting you off.
Simon Cowell: Yes.Credit: ITV
Alright. Cheryl, how would you define Simon? Apart from annoying.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: He's actually a big softy. This is all an exterior. (To Simon) Don't pretend like you're not. Big softy.
Cheryl, you said some of the ideas were yours this series. Can you name any in particular?
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Simon, you can go ahead and name them
Simon Cowell: God, I've really opened up a can of worms here, haven't I? I think the audience choosing the categories was probably hers. Definitely Nick.
Nick Grimshaw: Was that your decision?
Simon Cowell: Well, no not decision. It was idea, my decision.
Nick Grimshaw: Okay. It's a great idea, Cheryl.
Simon Cowell: I think just the one, actually, now that I'm thinking about it. Just one idea.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: We just brainstormed. We had fun brainstorming and having a laugh together.
Will the winner's single be a cover or an original song this year?
Simon Cowell: Ask Cheryl.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: That's a good question. It depends on who it is and what market they'll be headed for at that stage, I guess. Probably a cover because it's a good start but a cover that's unexpected and?
Nick Grimshaw: 'Crazy Stupid Love', something like that.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Something like that?
Simon Cowell: I think it will be an original song. (Laughter)
For the live shows, what are your thoughts on having a live band each week, rather than backing tracks for the contestants?
Simon Cowell: Cheryl?
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: It takes up a lot of space on the staging and, obviously, if you've got a group. There are some groups, potentially, with six members in. If you add a couple of dancers to that or different production ideas, the live instruments would be in the way. So you would have to change the whole set up, which wouldn't work. And I think it takes away from the excitement of big band week.
Simon Cowell: I think it's a really good idea. (Laughter) I think it's a good shout, yes.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: I think the themes need re?addressed.
It worked well for big band week.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Yes.
Simon Cowell: Exactly.
It always adds that bit more excitement.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Exactly.
The viewers love it. So I just wondered if we could have more of a generic type of band that could play all the backing tracks.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: I think they do that on another show and it?
Simon Cowell: Strictly [Come Dancing].
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Yes.
Nick Grimshaw: I think it sounds sometimes like a?
'Idol' used to do it, didn't they?
Simon Cowell: Yes, in America they did. Yes.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: I wasn't born then. (Laughter)
Simon, I heard you say earlier that you thought that Cheryl and Rita could learn a lot from each other. I just wanted to ask Cheryl what have you learned from Rita?
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Rita is the funniest person when it comes to metaphors. You didn't see enough of it in this episode, but I've never heard anybody express the way she feels through metaphors the way Rita does. It's a unique quality, it's very charming and I dare say I'm going to use some of them in the future.
The X Factor UK Season 12 premieres tomorrow night on ITV in the UK, and on Sunday night on AXS TV in the United States.
What do you think of the upcoming changes for the new season? Sound off in the comments!
For more on The X Factor UK, check out the premiere trailer for Season 12! And join us this weekend for coverage of the season premiere!