The X Factor judges have all been through the mill but this year’s show is a fresh new start
Simon Cowell: ‘Still devastated by the death of his mum’
Simon Cowell was naturally devastated by the death of his beloved mother Julie, who passed away on 5 July at the age of 89. And he’ll miss her more than ever during this series as Julie was an integral part of the X Factor family. ‘Julie was a big fan of the show,’ a source confirms.
Simon, 55, and his mum had such a close bond that she would watch his shows and take him to task if she thought he was being too harsh. He admitted last year: ‘She still loves to tell me off. The worst thing she can say to me if I’ve got my friends round is: “Simon, stop showing off!” And there’s no answer back to that.’
Just a few days after his loss, Simon was in Manchester for the X Factor auditions – where, he says, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini was a pillar of support. He revealed: ‘When you go through a tough time, you see who your real friends are. Cheryl was there. She was incredible – and that’s the side that maybe she doesn’t show to many people, but she is very compassionate.’ While Simon believes the show must always go on, Julie’s death has no doubt had an impact on him. But he’s determined to make this series the best yet. ‘I want fighters!’ he says.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini: Freaked out over being anorexia ‘inspo’
When Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’s slender frame was first hailed as ‘thinspiration’ on pro-anorexia websites five years ago, it’s safe to say that she was livid and reportedly ‘freaked out’ at the idea. And now Cheryl’s being hailed as a role model on pro-ana websites yet again, forcing her to hit back with vengeance. In a bid to silence critics, Cheryl, 32, said: ‘No, I’m not anorexic.
It all started with a girl on Instagram calling us a bag of bones. At the time I thought, people are so quick to judge without thinking: “Is there a reason why this person might be like that?”
‘Right now I feel like we’re facing a lot of body issues in general – girls expected to have big booties, girls with thin legs – and it’s impossible. It needs to slow down or stop. It’s highlighting body insecurities and it’s not right. I work 12 to 14 hours a day. I don’t even have time at the moment to exercise – and I don’t need to either. It’s nice that people are concerned, but honestly there’s no cause for concern. You can see I’m completely and utterly well and happy.’
One person who’s got Cheryl’s back is her second husband Jean Bernard. JB, 34, responded to cruel comments about his wife on Instagram, saying: ‘She is the most beautiful woman on the planet and she wants to share it. #sharingiscaring. And I can tell you something else, she really cares about her fans and is touched by all your support. Now for the haters, please continue talking #wasteofenergy. I wish I had that much time… Must mean you have a very productive life.’
Rita Ora: Under pressure to prove herself
As one of the two new additions to the X Factor judging panel, Rita Ora is understandably nervous about her new role. But to make matters worse, it wasn’t long ago she was at the centre of an online hate campaign over her choice to quit The Voice and join its rival show.
The 24-year-old singer was accused of choosing cash over credibility after deciding to jump ship. But she hit back at critics on a visit to the East London Arts And Music Academy earlier this year, saying: ‘I can’t believe people would ever think that I would do it for that. I thought: “Look at these talented kids in this school.” It reminded me that I’m so lucky. And that’s why I’m doing shows like The X Factor.’
Despite her defiant stance, it seems the pressure of her having to prove her worth against established judges Cheryl and Simon is clearly still on her mind. Rita reveals: ‘The X Factor is a big deal to me. I’ll bring the sex factor to the series! I’m really excited because I think people change their perspective of a person when you get to know them.’
Nick Grimshaw: Devastated over death of friend
He’s always cracking jokes, but Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw faced heartache when he lost his best friend Peaches Geldof, aged just 25, to heroin last year . The 31-year-old judge recently revealed: ‘I had to re-evaluate my life. It’s made me stop and think.’
The breakfast show host says he’s cut back on partying as he gets older. ‘I’ve had a healthier lifestyle for quite a while now. I eat better food and drink less, and I’m trying to be fitter. And part of that’s because I need to get up early and function.’
Nick was in California for the Coachella festival when the news broke of Peaches’ death. He cancelled his plans and flew back immediately. The pair were last seen together that February at the Brit Awards, then leaving a party hand in hand at 5am.
Nick’s been keeping busy with work since and now says: ‘I’m looking forward to going to work on a Saturday and Sunday and not feeling like a crazy person. I feel the sense of event is something I’ll love, knowing everyone’s watching on a Saturday night. I can’t wait.’