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X Factor contestants must ‘thrive’ on pressure not just talent to make Manchester final, warns Gary Barlow

By Dean Wilkins

Former Take That star Gary Barlow is warning X Factor contestants that talent alone will not be enough to get them Manchester’s final – they will have to thrive on pressure too.

After making his debut as a judge on the ITV Saturday night runaway success, Barlow admitted that he had learned a lot and is eager to put his position to better use this year.

Yesterday ITV bosses confirmed that the flagship show will uproot from London and settle in the north for its climax in December and Barlow was eager to have the show on his doorstep.

“One thing I noticed about last year is that some of the acts take to being in the X Factor environment like ducks to water and they just thrive on it,” said Barlow.

“Every week they come back better and better, whilst there are others that just get worse each week, taking the criticism badly and finding it hard to move forward.”

The singer – who was hailed by many for organising the Queen’s summer Jubilee concert – said most of the hard work is backstage and goes unnoticed by the audience at home.

“The performance on a Saturday night is the gift after a week of hard work,” he added.

“The rest of it is all hard work – interviews, being filmed, working out your song, practising your song and working out how you will translate it to the audience.

“I think a lot of them (contestants) get a shock. They all arrive thinking they only have to work on a Saturday night so it’s a sharp wake-up call when it’s not.”

X Factor veteran Louis Walsh – the show’s only original judge – also admitted that he wished he’d filled the shoes of Simon Cowell after the music mogul left to make the American version of the show a success.

The Irishman said: “I’ve never have any regrets, although I do wish I’d taken that Head Judge mug from Gary. It is rightly mine.”

This year’s final will be in Manchester for the first time as Barlow and Walsh team up with Nicole Scherzinger and Tulisa this Saturday for the beginning of the auditions.

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