Dermot O'Leary: I'm glad to be back

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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 Olly was criticised for making a string of gaffes.

Caroline Flack and Olly Murs
Last year's X Factor hosts Caroline Flack and Olly Murs (Philip Toscano / PA Archive/ PA Images)

Speaking at the London launch of the new series, O'Leary said: "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)."

Dermot said that he talked about his return in a "brief conversation" with Simon on the telephone.

Simon Cowell at Britain's Got Talent 2016 auditions in London's Dominion Theatre (Ian West/PA)
Simon Cowell (Ian West/PA)

"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."

Dermot 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."

Dermot said that he was not keen on the Six Chair Challenge - the brutal way in which contestants were 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."

He said that he did not mean to suggest in a previous remark that the show needed to take a year out.

And he said that the judges, especially Simon, were nicer than they used to be.

"That Mr Nasty thing is aeons ago. He's never really been that person anyway," he said.

"At the end of the day it's a talent show. You can't sugar-coat that."

Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh
Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh on the first series of The X Factor in 2004 (ITV/PA Images)

He said of the judges: "No-one's afraid of Simon on his 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!"