Gary Barlow :'16 is too young for X Factor'
The age rules for contestants on X Factor have been called into question after judge Gary Barlow reportedly said one 16-year-old was "too young" to cope with the pressure.
Viewers saw teenager Luke Lucas become upset after struggling with his performance in front of Barlow and his Take That bandmate Robbie Williams during the judges' houses stage.
Barlow, who did not put Luke through to the programme's live shows, told the Daily Mail: "Sixteen is just too young to be in this competition with this kind of pressure, but some 16-year-olds are more mature than others. Luke is just too young.
"I have a responsibility here as well. It was too much for him - no wonder he cracked under the pressure."
Williams, who found fame with Take That in his mid-teens, is reported to have said: "I do think 16 is a bit young but when you get an opportunity you just grab it.
"If it was my son or daughter I don't think I would be pushing them that early."
Other 16-year-olds remain in the competition, however, including Janet Devlin and Amelia Lily.
Claude Knights, of Kidscape, said the charity had "major concerns over people this young being put under the microscope".
He added: "It's impossible for a boy Luke's age to have nerves of steel. I think it would be fairer to everyone to increase the minimum age to 18."
The fresh controversy comes just weeks after the show came under fire for devoting more than seven minutes of one episode to a "cruel" audition featuring contestant Ceri Rees.
The 54-year-old, who has auditioned for the show four times, was shown struggling to sing in tune and was rejected by the judges.
An X Factor spokesman told the Sun: "All contestants are judged and assessed individually.
"If any of our younger contestants is deemed too immature to deal with the pressures of the competition they are advised to re-apply in future years.
"Contestants are aged 16 and over, therefore there is no requirement for a chaperone. However, younger contestants are accompanied at all times by a responsible adult at bootcamp and judges' houses."