Gary Barlow has said that the forthcoming series of The X Factor will be the best ever, with more talented performers and less novelty acts than in recent years.

Speaking to the Daily Star Sunday the Take That singer said that he and fellow judges Nicole Scherzinger Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh had made every effort to ensure there was a greater emphasis on good quality acts and more experienced musicians in this year’s line-up.

And he added that he thought they had done well in choosing the acts who have made it through to the judges’ houses.

“The level of talent feels a real step up from last year,” Gary said. “Allowing musicians to play their instruments has made a massive difference.

“We have a lot more singer-songwriters, a lot more real artists. There are two fantastic groups but on the whole the groups are the weakest.

However Gary – who is rumoured to be mentoring the over 28s category – added, “The over-28s are actually very strong this year. I would say the overs and the girls are the stand-out categories.”

Louis Walsh agreed with him, saying, “We have a lot less karaoke acts and more real singers. We have a lot less novelty acts.”

The series is due to return later this month, with rumours that Louis will be mentoring the groups, Nicole the boys and Tulisa the girls.