Gary Barlow’s casting as The X Factor‘s head judge has proved to be “genius”, singer Darren Hayes has said.

The Take That frontman took over from former top man Simon Cowell for the new series of the show, and Darren – who was a guest mentor on the Australian version of the talent contest – is a big fan.

“He’s adorable and it’s tough isn’t it, because Gary’s the one we all love and you want him to be a softie and he’s actually not, he’s quite hard,” the former Savage Garden star said.

“And he gets away with it because if someone’s a great singer and a great songwriter, you have to respect them. I think it’s genius that they’ve cast him in that role – he’s earned the right to say that stuff.”

But Darren – whose new album Secret Codes And Battleships is out on October 17 – admitted he missed seeing fellow Aussie Dannii Minogue on the show.

“Dannii was my favourite judge, I miss her. She’s great on TV and I always thought she was really fair,” he added.

The Truly Madly Deeply singer said he may have considered entering the contest if it had been around when he was starting out.

“It’s so much harder to get a record deal, it’s so much harder to even get a gig these days. I think it’s really difficult to put a foot in the door and who are we to judge somebody?

“We’ve found some great talent in this country – look at someone like Leona Lewis. To think that girl would’ve sat in a room somewhere without anyone noticing her is kind of insane. So I think it’s a good platform.”

Darren’s new single Black Out The Sun is out now.

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