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It was thrilling . . . the Queen has definitely got the X Factor

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CROWNING GLORY: Louis Walsh chats with the Queen at Buckingham Palace during an evening to honour members of the Irish community who have a made a positive contribution to Britain

CROWNING GLORY: Louis Walsh chats with the Queen at Buckingham Palace during an evening to honour members of the Irish community who have a made a positive contribution to Britain

CROWNING GLORY: Louis Walsh chats with the Queen at Buckingham Palace during an evening to honour members of the Irish community who have a made a positive contribution to Britain

THERE aren't many showbiz figures with the staying power of music mogul Louis Walsh.

As one of the key Irish figures in the showbiz industry, it really is a case of "been there, done that" for the 61-year-old Mayo man.

And there's still more that he has to accomplish. Not happy with 10 years on the X Factor and managing two hit boybands, he now wants to conquer the charts with new act Hometown.

That's without even mentioning his visit to Buckingham Palace this week, when he joined other members of the Irish diaspora from the worlds of sport, business, politics, the arts and community work who have all made a positive contribution to Britain.

Other Irish stars hand-picked to rub shoulders with the blue bloods included Philip Treacy, Niall Horan and Orla Kiely.

Joking about how the Queen "definitely has the X Factor", Walsh talked to her about Mary McAleese and she told him how much she liked the former president.

"It was fab. I had a great time," said Walsh. "We were brought into this room in the palace and she gave a short speech and I was brought back to do a quick pic with her.

THRILLED

"I was thrilled to meet her. It was an honour to even be asked, I never expected it in a million years."

That's often the surprise factor when meeting Walsh: for someone so instantly recognisable, people naturally assume he's going to be pompous and arrogant, a kind of Irish Simon Cowell.

Although he's had to become more guarded in recent years, he's just as approachable now as when he was slogging it out on the showband circuit years ago.

He looks equally as youthful too – thanks to a hair transplant, having fat removed from under his eyes and dental work.

Last night, he stepped out to the London premiere of new spoof musical I Can't Sing with TV supremo Cowell.

Walsh insisted he enjoyed the production which pokes fun at TV talent shows.

"I loved it. It's laugh-out-loud funny and if you can't laugh at yourself, you're in trouble," he said.

He also joked that Cowell has changed for the better since the birth of his son Eric with his partner Lauren Silverman.

"He's absolutely obsessed with this baby. I think it has definitely changed him and he's grown up. He's still completely vain – he hasn't changed in that way," he said.

"Simon is always the main attraction – it's his world and we're all lucky to be breathing the same air.

"But the baby has made him a nicer person, less selfish, I think."

Walsh also insisted that Cowell has left him in the dark when it comes to his future or lack of on X Factor.

"With Simon Cowell back, I would like to do it for one more year. But we'll have to wait and see. I honestly don't know if I'll be back," he said.

"It would be interesting to be back working with Cheryl, but I would love to see Sharon Osbourne back, as well as Mel B. And I think Ellie Goulding would also be amazing.

CHALLENGE

Always looking for the next big challenge, Walsh hates being bored and can't ever imagine himself retiring.

He's ploughing ahead with plans to launch new boyband Hometown.

The five lads are tipped for massive chart success, with several UK record labels clamouring to sign them up.

Walsh said the best thing about them was that they were all from the country with no massive egos to contend with.

"They're all culchies so there are no Dublin troublemakers there, which is great," he said.

"Their album is really fantastic, it's nearly finished. It's all original songs and is a mixture of ballads and up-tempo songs. They're not like anybody else.

"There's no record deal yet. I'm going to take my time with these guys and do it right because they are so good."

The fame-seeking lads are Brendan Murray (17) from Galway, Cian Morrin (19) from Mayo, Dayl Cronin (20) from Tipperary, Garret Borrowe (18) from Derry and Kildare's Ryan McLoughlin (20).

They've been working with executive producer Glenn Herlihy and songwriters Robert Grace and James Foley as they gear up to launch their debut material.

BASICS

Walsh said it was going to be "back to basics" for him as he concentrated on doing what he does best – managing bands and making them big.

"It's going to be back to the day job for me, which is what I love doing best," he said.

He's also busy managing Shane Filan.

"Shane has made so much progress since going out on his own," he said.

"He has proved that he's got what it takes to make it on his own. He's going to tour around Ireland and it's going brilliant."

Walsh insisted that his former Westlife bandmates had been massively supportive of him, though none of them managed to make it to Filan's Dublin show.

MFINN@HERALD.IE


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