Gary Barlow ‘had really done’ TV talent show format before Walk The Line invite

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  • Simon Cowell
    Simon Cowell
    A&R executive
  • Gary Barlow
    Gary Barlow
    English musician

Gary Barlow has said he felt like he had “really done” the TV talent show format before Simon Cowell personally invited him to be his replacement on the upcoming ITV series Walk The Line.

Walk The Line is music mogul Cowell’s latest TV venture and features comedian Dawn French, singer Alesha Dixon and musician Craig David alongside Barlow on the judging panel.

Take That star Barlow, who has carved out a successful TV career alongside his music, having been a judge on The X Factor and Let It Shine, stepped in to replace Cowell after the 62-year-old decided to focus on his role as creator and producer for the debut series.

The show was scheduled to mark his return to UK television after he broke his back when he fell off an electric bike he was testing at his house in Malibu in August last year.

However, Barlow told the PA news agency he expected Cowell to return for the second series.

He said: “At the point where I got the phone call off Simon, I wasn’t planning any sort of TV. I felt like I’d really done the talent show thing. But I liked the idea and I thought, ‘This is going to be different’.

“It’s quick. It’s just six episodes, which feels modern now. An idea of a series with 41 shows nowadays just feels like the past, I guess. So this felt like it was easy to do.

“The idea of putting undiscovered talent on TV is – I don’t want to sound too cliche – but it’s bloody important. And I love to see it because there’s a lot out there. So if I can be a small part of that…

The Shooting Star Ball – London
Simon Cowell (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“I think it’s only for this series. I’m sure Simon will be back next year. It’s his show… but I’ve been happy to help and I like ITV. They’ve always been really good to me.”

Walk The Line will face scrutiny from viewers and critics as a successor to the successful X Factor format, but Barlow said Cowell was used to the pressure.

He said: “Someone like Simon, they’re always going to have pressure around them, because he’s been so successful. That’s what it is. And also, people love to knock success. But he knows all that stuff as I do.

“But again, it’s about the people at home watching this show and all of a sudden the people at home are – I don’t get to vote in this – they get to do all the voting.”

Barlow, who celebrated his 50th birthday earlier this year, has released his debut Christmas album, The Dream Of Christmas, which features original songs and festive classics, and a duet with Sheridan Smith.

He admitted he was only aiming for a top 10 single because of strong competition from artists such as Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton John, and Adele.

“I think this Christmas is a whole different environment,” he told PA.

“You’ve got the really big artists out this year. Adele’s out. Ed Sheeran is out. That’s going to be tricky. If I’m somewhere in the top 10 for Christmas, I’ll be really happy with that.

“I don’t think you can have a plan for those things. They just work or they don’t. I certainly never make music trying to aim for things like that.

“You just make the best record you can. You do the best tours you can. And the rest is just the bit you can’t control. Here is hoping. If we are somewhere in that top 10 I’ll be very happy.”

The Dream Of Christmas is out now. Details of Barlow’s UK tour are available online.

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