X Factor’s longest-standing judge Louis Walsh reveals who will be getting gifts this year, what he played in his school Nativity and his plans for panto… (ohhh yes he is!)

You know Christmas is close when The X Factor is over, but we’re not the only ones who use the end of this series as a special reminder that there’s shopping to be done, halls to be decked and a turkey dinner to prepare.

Louis Walsh, who admits he’s never cooked a meal in his whole life, may come across as a bah humbug as he repeatedly tells us, ‘This is not me,’ when we tried to prise Christmas plans out of him. But we discovered in the time it would take us to cook three batches of sprouts (15 minutes, FYI), that deep down he’s a Christmas person at heart – even if he was a bit ‘hangry’ when we called him…

Hey Louis, have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

Yes, I do some shopping in London and some in Dublin. I write a list because I only buy things I know people are going to use – I don’t buy silly things. I like to buy diaries with people’s names on, key holders or other practical things.

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Do you shop online or prefer to go to a store?

Nothing online ever – I’m old fashioned. I like to go to the shops, see it and buy it. I don’t care if I’m recognised. You just put your head down!

How good are you at wrapping?

I get wrapping done in the shop. I order everything, go for a coffee and get it wrapped.

Have you ever used a voucher to buy a gift?

Not really, no. I just buy things I know people are going to use. Nothing over the top – just nice things.

Who do you buy gifts for?

Just people I like. On the show and other people I’ve worked with and whoever I think is going to give me something. Beautiful Tiffany pens are lovely or wallets are always nice to have on hand, in case someone buys you an unexpected gift.

Have you ever bought The X Factor judges a present?

All of them. Every year. I just get them normal things – I always buy Simon Cowell a really good book about music or a box set I know he’s going to watch. He likes biographies and stuff but he’s very hard to buy for because he’s got everything.

What have they bought you?

All the usual stuff, diaries or pens. I’m not giving any information on what Sharon Osbourne buys, she always buys me nice things but I don’t really want to talk about it.

Do you have a pre-Christmas dinner, before you go off?

We go out [for dinner] every week in London when we’ve done the show, but we usually exchange Christmas gifts in the studio.

Tell us about your earliest Christmas memory?

Just waking up in Mayo in the west of Ireland with Christmas trees, music, toys and all that. There’s nine in our family – I’m from an ordinary family.

What did you play in your school Nativity?

I was the baby Jesus in the crib when I was aged two or three and this year I’m doing a cameo in Nativity! The Musical. It’s something I never thought I’d do but it will be fun. I only have to play myself.

Do you usually go to see a pantomime at Christmas?

In Dublin there’s usually one on at the Olympia Theatre – it’s always a good panto with local stars, it’s always fun. I would only do panto with Sharon – if she said she would do it then I would. We often talked about it.

Do you have a real or an artificial tree?

Oh, always a real one. In Dublin you get some lovely trees. I get it from one of the local shops – as soon as The X Factor is over the Christmas tree goes up. I dress it myself and I put whatever I find on the top of the tree.

What is your favourite Christmas song?

I like the The Pogues [& Kirsty McColl] Fairytale Of New York, it never seems to date. I hate Slade [I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day], I hate that one. I like Mariah [Carey] singing Holy Night, I like Last Christmas but Christmas hangs around too long now.

Do you send Christmas cards?

Sometimes I’ll send cards with gifts. I’m obviously on Christmas card lists somewhere and I send to everybody. I get loads from people I don’t really know very well. I’m not telling you who…

Tell us about your Christmas Eve plans…

I’m always in Dublin. Dublin is fun. It’s always the best place and everybody’s out. I go out during the day and then I go home to the west of Ireland, always the same routine – home to my mother’s house to see everybody on Christmas Day. I’d never go to Barbados [for Christmas] with Simon, I want to get away from him and he wants to get away from me. He’s going to be with Lauren and Eric, who is just an adorable child. He’s so unspoilt and nice, unlike his daddy. I’ll get him something for Christmas. He likes little cars.

How about your plans for Christmas Day?

I get up late – at least noon. It’s always late nights and late mornings with me, I’m always like that. I have a cup of tea and eat in the afternoon with everybody, and we watch TV, all the usual stuff.

Do you spend the whole day in your pyjamas?

Oh God I just can’t do this…I swear to God this is so not me. We have a traditional Christmas – it’s Ireland so it’s different to England, it’s more real, it’s more family orientated. It’s very normal, my life is very normal. I can’t do the bulls**t questions!

Do you cook yourself?

No, I’ve never cooked in my life. I always go out to restaurants, so my sister Evelyn will cook Christmas dinner. I like to eat turkey and ham, chocolates, cream and all the usual Christmas stuff. I’ll have one or two puddings, I don’t pig out and because I don’t cook, I don’t have to worry about eating leftovers the next day. I don’t drink much, believe it or not, for an Irish person.

Be honest – do you work on Christmas Day?

Not really. I’m on the phone, I do talk to people. I’m always getting texts and I always reply. I don’t FaceTime people on Christmas Day though – I leave people alone to watch their own TV and to be with their own families. I always put my phone on silent, it’s usually the day after [that I will get in touch].

What Christmas films do you like to watch with the family?

I don’t really like to go back on old movies. I like to watch American box sets and Netflix. I’m watching Narcos at the moment and I’m loving it.

What do you want for Christmas?

Just more fun. I don’t really need material things, I have enough. I get a lot of alcohol and I don’t usually drink so I give it away to other people.

Tell us about your voiceover for Merry Woofmas…

It was different. I’m doing things that I never thought I would do this year. I’m just so lucky to even be asked to do anything so I don’t take it for granted. I’d like to do more.

What’s your New Year’s resolution for 2018?

Just to have more fun and be happy. I like to go out for New Year’s Eve. I’m always in Miami and I love it there, it’s always a big deal with fireworks and it’s just crazy. Sometimes it’s nice to just walk along the beach. Anyway is that it? I want to go out and eat – I’m starving here, I’m waiting to go out!’