Dermot is seeing stars
Cheery X Factor host Dermot O'Leary reveals that, despite his experience, he still feels star-struck when talking to A list celebs on the red carpet
Dermot O'Leary sometimes forgets how famous he is. Even though his face is beamed into millions of homes every week from August to December as presenter of The X Factor, he still gets a shock when he's recognised.
Take the other week, when he was hosting the National TV Awards and met the cast of that other ITV behemoth, Downton Abbey.
"Loads of them recognised me, which really freaked me out because Downton Abbey is a huge deal. They were like, 'Yeah, we really like The X Factor' and I'm like, 'Really? You're in Downton Abbey!' I know I'm on telly, but you do forget how many people might watch you."
He'll have to get used to having a much bigger audience as he's about to host Live From The Red Carpet: The 2012 BAFTA Awards for E! Entertainment.
Alongside his friend and fellow DJ Fearne Cotton, O'Leary will interview all the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees.
"I've always been a massive film fan, so it's funny I've never done anything professionally with it before," says the Essex-born 38-year-old. "And I've always really enjoyed interviewing actors, although it can be challenging sometimes, especially when you've only got 60 seconds with someone.
"If I can get any time with Clooney or Brad Pitt, then I'm really going to need to keep my cool and I don't think that's possible," he adds, chuckling.
It's hard to imagine one star being nervous of meeting another, but then Arsenal fan O'Leary recently met his idol Thierry Henry for the first time the other day.
"He's obviously one of the best players ever and he's also devilishly handsome, so I got hugely star-struck when I met him. You do [get nervous] and then you go, 'Hang on a minute, they're just like me, great!' and you get on with it."
He's looking forward to having Cotton alongside him on the red carpet, if only for a bit of moral support. Although she's been on The Xtra Factor, the pair have never really worked together before.
"It's a weird thing, presenting, because you rarely get a chance to co-present with anyone else, unless you're Ant and Dec, you know. You don't want the banter to be forced, so it comes with its own challenges, but I'm really looking forward to it."
O'Leary's relationship with American channel E! began last year when he presented the channel's coverage of the Royal Wedding.
"They were so much fun to work with, that's why I wanted to come back and do this," he says.
As for actually presenting shows in America, he's keen for the challenge, but don't expect him to be replacing Steve Jones on the US version of The X Factor in a hurry.
"Oh God no!" he says. "I would doubt it. I don't want to talk about another person's job because it's not good politics and I love doing the UK show - that's where my heart is."
He's currently the bookies' favourite to get the job though, after Jones and judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul were given the boot in one of Simon Cowell's infamous reshuffles.
"Are you after getting a cheeky bet yourself, is that why you're asking?" he laughs.
"I have no idea what's going to happen in the future and I definitely still want to work in the States, but it's got to be right for my lifestyle. When you work over there, you've got to give it your all."
For the time being, he's got his hands full. He's moving home soon and there's a wedding to long-term girlfriend Dee Koppang to organise, after he proposed last year.
"We're working on a date, but we're not there yet," is all he'll offer on the subject.
Ironically, despite his success with The X Factor over here, O'Leary can't confirm whether he'll be hosting the next series, due to start in August.
"I had a really good year last year, so of course I hope to do it, but I'm not the sort of person to tempt fate. If I said, 'Yeah, I'm coming back' but I'm not signed on the dotted line, I'd look stupid, so I'd never say that."
After the show was beaten by BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing in the Saturday night ratings war, Cowell decided the judging panel had not been brave enough and rumours are rife that he'll reinstate Cheryl Cole.
But O'Leary's keeping diplomatically tight-lipped on any changes to the line-up that might take place.
"I've no idea. From my perspective, I'm just going to keep out of all that. I've got shows that I work on and my Radio 2 show that I'm the boss of.
"You have to reconcile the fact that some jobs you're a centre forward and some you're a player-manager.
"X Factor pretty much let me get on with it. They say, 'Be you, be cheeky, fight the corner of the acts and away you go'. They've been really good to me."
One show he won't be presenting again in a hurry is Big Brother's Little Brother - or any other show with Big Brother in the title. He admits he hasn't even watched the new version on Channel 5.
"I've weirdly taken a monastic vow that I won't watch it when it's on Channel 5. It was all-encompassing in my life. For about seven years, I watched every episode and did a live show pretty much four months of the year, six days a week.
"When I left, even though I'm still a fan, I made a concerted effort to not let it take over my life. Because if it did then I should still be working on it. That's what I had to do."
And with that, busy O'Leary's off to start packing to move into his newly renovated £3.5 million home in London's Primrose Hill, which he'll share with fiancee Koppang.
Two days after the Baftas, he'll be doing nothing more glamorous than celebrating Valentine's Day with a takeaway, in his dusty jeans, he says. But you can sense that kind of down-to-earth evening will make him just as happy as a night out with the stars.
EXTRA TIME - DERMOT'S FILM PICKS
As the host of E! Entertainment's Bafta red carpet coverage, Dermot O'Leary's working his way through all the nominated films. Here are his five favourites so far...
:: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - The British spy thriller has 11 nominations including Best Film and Best Actor for Gary Oldman.
:: Bridesmaids - The surprise hit comedy is nominated for Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Melissa McCarthy.
:: We Need To Talk About Kevin - Based on the novel by Lionel Shriver, its nominations include Outstanding British Film, Best Director, and Best Actress for Tilda Swinton.
:: Drive: The slick thriller about a getaway driver, starring Ryan Gosling, is nominated for Best Film and Best Supporting Actress for Carey Mulligan.
:: Dermot O'Leary co-hosts Live From The Red Carpet: The 2012 BAFTA Awards on E! Entertainment Television on Sunday, February 12