'Surprised' O'Leary glad to be back after missing The X Factor
Published 25/08/2016 | 15:21
X Factor host Dermot O'Leary has admitted that he was surprised to be asked back to the show.
Pop star Olly Murs and presenter Caroline Flack hosted the singing series in 2015 but Murs was criticised for making a string of gaffes.
Speaking at the London launch of the new series, O'Leary told the Press Association: "I missed it. In my heart I definitely missed it.
"To be honest, when I made the call to leave I thought that the ship has sailed.
"I was surprised (to be asked back)."
O'Leary said that he talked about his return in a "brief conversation with Simon (Cowell) on the telephone.
"Then we met for tea and chatted for about two or three hours. It was a lot less awkward than I thought it'd be, because men just don't talk."
O'Leary added: "I definitely feel energised, having had a year off.
"The show does take seven or eight months of the year so by the time it's finished you are ready for a holiday."
O'Leary said that he was not keen on the six-chair challenge - the brutal way in which contestants are whittled down - which returns this year.
"I've never been the biggest fan (of the six-chair challenge)," he said. "This year we are doing it again and it's not the easiest bit of telly."
And he said that he did not mean to suggest in a previous remark that the show needed to take a year out.
But he said that the judges, especially Cowell, were nicer than they used to be.
"That Mr Nasty thing is aeons ago. He's never really been that person anyway.
"At the end of the day it's a talent show. You can't sugar-coat that."
He said of the judges: "No-one's afraid of Simon on this year's panel and that's not always been the case."
Asked how to get a winner with a number one single after last year's victor Louisa Johnson's debut track only reached number nine in the charts, he said: "That's a question above my pay grade!"