Gary Barlow has apologised to fellow X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos after he accused her of having ‘fag ash breath’ on Saturday night’s show.

The pair launched into their war of words after Gary’s act Christopher Maloney had performed his rendition of Cutting Crew’s I Just Died In Your Arms – leading Tulisa to ask Gary, “How many more 80s songs are you going to let him destroy?”

Gary retorted with, “Tulisa, I don’t know what’s offended me more: what you said or the fag-ash breath,” leaving the N-Dubz singer speechless.

She hit back moments later by telling Gary to “lay off the red wine because I can really smell that too” – but speaking on The Xtra Factor the Take That singer said sorry for his remarks.

“Can I apologise to Tulisa; I mean it. You have the freedom to be as personal as you like to me for the rest of the series. Insult me,” Gary told her – with Tulisa reminding him that he had previously told her he “loved” the smell of cigarettes because he used to smoke.”

A show source later said, “They were locked in a dressing room for peace talks after the show; just the two of them. Gary apologised a lot. Tulisa was angry but eventually she accepted his apology.

“Gary feels really, really bad about what he said. It was speaking without thinking in the spur of the moment and he didn’t mean it.”