Gary Barlow has revealed the inner workings of The X Factor with a series of controversial claims about the ‘paranoid’ atmosphere backstage at the ITV talent show.
He’s claimed that producers may have bugged the dressing rooms, and would try to feed the judges lines, which would then be repeated on the show, to stoke controversy and create headlines.
The comments have come from excerpts from his new autobiography, A Better Me, in which he exposes what he calls the ‘manipulative nonsense’ that goes on behind the scenes.
Barlow was a judge on the show for three years, and saw the programme warts and all from behind the cameras.
“I’ve got a very healthy address book of TV professionals and I set about ringing every single one of them,” he writes.
“The X Factor. What’s it all about? To the last, they all said the same thing: ‘The only thing anyone cares about in that building is The X Factor. They won’t mind throwing you under the bus, using you to get a headline, feeding you a line that will end your career, as long as The X Factor gets a mention.’
“‘You don’t go in there alone, you need back up.’”
He goes on to say that he used a producer, Ben Winston, who worked with his friend James Corden, and brought him on as part of his ‘team’ on the series, but was really there to filter out what the judges were being influenced to say by the show’s top brass in the green room.
“About half an hour before the show goes live, the producers would come in and and they’d go, ‘Oh my God. That Misha. She’s a bully. Can’t believe it. She is such a bully. In fact, you know what? You should say it. You should say it on air. She’s bullied everyone all week,” Barlow writes.
“They leave the room. Ben: Do not say that. Later Misha comes on… Tulisa: I think you’re a bully. Louis: ‘I think you’re a bully.”
The Take That star also says that while making the programme, he developed ‘a bad case of showbiz paranoia’, because what seemed to be private conversations would end up appearing in the newspapers.
“Was the dressing room bugged?” he goes on. “They always seemed to know what was being talked about behind closed doors, and eaten, too. What ever happened in that building always found its way to the press.”
Barlow quit the show in 2013 after judging on three series.
He said in a statement at the time: “I’ve had an amazing time on X Factor these past three years. A show like this needs to stay fresh and exciting, so it’s a great opportunity for someone to come in and take the show past its incredible ten year anniversary.”
He later produced his own talent show, Let It Shine, for the BBC.