Simon Cowell revealed on GMTV this morning he gave Susan Boyle the option of pulling out of the Britain’s Got Talent final.
Speaking to GMTV’s Ben Shephard, Simon said, “You can’t predict how things are going to escalate and how well that person can cope.”
Below is the transcript of Simon’s interview:
SIMON COWELL: You’ve got to take yourself back to when we first did the audition, which I think was in January or February, when we were up in Glasgow and we met Susan for the first time. And you’ve been on these audition shows with me – you know, lady comes on, we didn’t think she was going to be very good. You watch the clip back – I look stupid, she’s fantastic, and you think life’s going to be wonderful for her. What you’re not thinking at that moment in time is, is that this clip will go out in two month’s time and 300million people are going to make you one of the most famous people in the world – it doesn’t cross your mind. All your thinking is, is that things are getting better for you because you want to win a talent show. And then by the time we did the semi-finals, it’s gone ballistic now. Everyone’s writing about her, she’s in the spotlight and she found it difficult to cope with. And at that point even I sat down with her and said, ‘Look, if this is getting too much for you, you don’t have to go into the final, no one’s going to force you – you do whatever you want, whatever suits you.’ And she looked me in the eye and said, ‘No, I want to win this competition, I want to give it a go.’ And that was the decision we all made. I thought she wanted to do it, and it was only at the moment when she lost when it hits you and you go, ‘How are you going to cope with this?’ And she found it very, very difficult. And in fact, in this very, very same office I sat with her family the week afterwards because I invited them in. I said, ‘Look you’ve got to tell me because I need to know – did we make the right the decision or the wrong decision having her on the show?’ And they said, ‘You made the right decision because all Susan ever wanted to do was have a shot’ – because we are going to make a record with her. What you can’t see when you first meet someone Ben, is you can’t predict how things are going to escalate and how well that person can cope. What I don’t want to do at the beginning is to go through a whole kind of psychological evaluation because I think for me that’s almost discrimination. I don’t know how someone’s going to cope with fame. All I can try and do is help them cope with it. But no one ever put a gun to her head and said you’ve got to enter this show, because a lot of people said Susan Boyle should not have been allowed to take part in the competition.
BEN SHEPHARD: You’ve had a lot of criticism from people saying that you shouldn’t have had her up there and you’ve taken advantage of her?
SC: Well she got into a fragile state because she couldn’t cope with all the attention. And that’s what you can’t predict. But to take it back and for me to have said on that very first day, ‘You know what Susan, I’m going to make a decision about you and say you can’t cope with this, so you can’t live your dream.’ I’ve got no right to say that. What I have a responsibility is that when I put someone in that spotlight, I’ve got to make sure that they are able to cope with it in every possible way to make it easier for them.
BS: But at some point, do you think then that you have the responsibility – you need to take responsibility of telling them that they can’t go on that – you don’t think that they’re ready for it.
SC: Well this is the problem, I mean we all watched the clip together – everyone saw that clip. I don’t think anybody at that point would have said, you know, because you all felt good when you saw the clip – you thought ‘good for Susan’. Not one person phoned me up and said, you know what – I don’t think that lady should be allowed to go any further. And I actually interviewed her on the Oprah show in the middle of it all and she was incredible. Because I was having a live chat with her – ‘How are you doing? Are you enjoying it? – ‘I’m having the time of my life.’ And she was showing us pictures and letters from all over the world, and she said, ‘I’m having the time of my life.’ So nothing registered at that point that this is going to be a problem. And now, do you say to Susan now, ‘Shall I just stop you making a record?’ I just don’t think I could do that. Because I said to her family, ‘I’ll rip the contract up, you can have the contract back. No one’s going to force her into a recording studio – I’ll do whatever you want, whatever Susan wants.’ And we’ve done what she wants us to do.
BS: And with regards to the children as well – because there were all sorts being thrown at the show and what happened. Have you learnt from that experience as well – particularly what happened with Holly [Steel]?
SC: It was tough. I mean starting with Holly – you know, you’ve done live TV all your life. And in the middle of a live show, that happens – you just don’t know what to do. What’s the right thing or the wrong thing? I made the decision – I didn’t know whether I could do it or not – when I said, ‘You can sing’. I genuinely didn’t know what the implication of that was, other than ‘You are going to sing again,’ because it just felt the right thing to do. Ironically I got more complaints about that than anything else. When people were saying about OFCOM getting complaints, all the complaints really were about the fact that I had given her as second chance. But again I would do that – if I had the chance – I would do it again. It felt like the right thing to do. The time that I felt really bad, I have to be honest with you, is when I made Aiden cry on the final. That’s when I thought I went too far. Because it’s a very difficult situation when you’re like, ‘Do I treat you like adult, do I treat you as a kid? What’s the right thing to do?’ And I made the wrong call because actually it was the most important night of his life and I upset him, and I’ve got to tell you, that really, really hurt me because I hurt him, and I felt terrible. And I apologised to him straight afterwards and I said, ‘Look, I shouldn’t have said that, I think you’re brilliant.’ But at the time I thought, ‘How could I have said that when I watched his reaction.’
Simon Cowell also spoke of the tension between the female X Factor judges, Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue. He said:
“Girls are girls right – they all want to be the centre of attention. I don’t think anyone has ever ended up as best friends. But they don’t hate each other. In fact actually no, I think they like each other now… ish. They’re not going to go on holiday together Ben, but you know, they’ve got to do the job they’re being paid to do – which is judge a talent show. But things have quietened down a bit I think.”
On Louis Walsh, Simon said:
“Louis had his teeth done. No, I’m being serious! He went to my dentist, it hasn’t been the success he was hoping because where as I use a white chart, he used a grey chart and I’m being serious his teeth are straight but they are grey!”