Dermot spills all on this year's series...

It’s finally time for The X Factor and presenter Dermot O’Leary has opened up about what we can expect from this series.

The X Factor’s back! What’s changed this year? 

Simon and the judges have been encouraging contestants to come with their original tracks. It’s such a gamble to come in and sing your own song, especially in the early stage of the competition because you’re performing for an audience that have never heard the song before, so it can go well, or it can go really badly. If the song doesn’t connect, you’re in trouble. But it encourages more originality.

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The Xtra Factor has got the chop. Will you miss it? 

I was sad, but I get it. We’ve made The X Factor for 14 years now and the way people watch the show has changed – people look to YouTube a lot more.

What do you still love about the show?

It’s produced people like James Arthur, Harry Styles and Olly Murs on one hand, and then on the other hand it’s helped Rylan launch a very successful presenting career and then there’s the eccentric people like Honey G and Stevi Ritchie. I love that we’ve got room for all those different people.

How do you get through long days on the shows and still manage to look so fresh? 

Eye masks have become my new favourite thing! You go to bed about 3am, wake up at 8am and because it’s the height of the summer, it’s really bright and you’re in a strange hotel room, so any extra hours sleep you can get with an eye mask is invaluable. Honestly, it’s my most important possession!

There was a slight change to the judging panel this year with Alesha Dixon stepping in for a couple of days. What was it like having her on board?

She’s good, she’s so much fun. I know Alesha well from her Mis-Teeq days – I went to all their concerts! I’ve interviewed her a few times but I’ve never worked with her properly before. She did judges’ houses last year and was super opinionated.

There’s a singing female monk who auditioned this year…

was really excited about her! Her audition was off the scale. She was singing and then suddenly Simon’s talking about seeing a butterfly come into the room, even though it was at night. It was weird, but she’s spiritual and touched by a higher power, I hope!

What don’t you want to see on the show this year? 

I think the most important thing is for people to be original. Every year we have people trying to be Adele, Sam Smith or, this year, Ed Sheeran – we don’t need another one of those artists, we have them already. It’s incredible how many kids turn up with a guitar and do an Ed song. I always wonder why you would bother doing that because you’re only ever going to get compared to him.

Do you think weight, age and appearance have an impact on how successful artists are?

I’d like to think we’ve moved on from that. As a country we’re in a far better place for any of that than we have ever been before. When I first started there were girls doing my job who had to appear in lad’s mags. Now that feels so old fashioned.

Which judge do you think most wants to win this year?

Nicole always wants to win. Whether it’s to do with her being a singer or not, she’s a force to be reckoned with. There’s something about her focus when we get to live shows.

This is the show’s 14th series! Can you see it ever getting to a 20th series?

I think there’s still an appetite for it. The year I was away was really interesting because I thought I’d miss people, which I did, I thought I’d miss presenting live TV, which I did. But you also forget when you’re working on a show that it’s part of the national conversation, and that’s exciting. It’s still a show that the nation talks about and has an opinion on. And look at the charts – it’s still packed with people who started out on this show and that says it all, really.