The Take That singer joins a new-look judging panel as The X Factor returns to ITV1 on Saturday, August 20…

Why did you want to become a judge on this year’s X Factor?
“I really wanted to help find the next big star. You can sit through hours of auditions and then that one star walks onto the stage and it reminds me of why I’m judging. It’s been fascinating to sit on the panel and be part of the auditions; the variety has been immense!”

You’re joining the panel alongside Louis Walsh and fellow new judges, ex-Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland and N-Dubz singer Tulisa. How’s the new line-up working out?
“I’m aware all eyes will be on the new judges to see what we’ll bring to the table and I do hope viewers like the new line-up. Alongside Louis, there are few more relevant to judge these acts than myself, Kelly and Tulisa because we’re out there doing it right now; we’re all selling records and I’ve just played the biggest tour that Take That has ever done!”

What are you looking for in the acts?
“I’m looking for the overall package; they must have a really good voice, as well as the passion, the personality and the stage-presence. But if someone just had an amazing voice and kept their eyes shut that’s enough for me. Over the next few months we could train the rest into them.”

Will you be the panel’s Mr Nasty now Simon Cowell’s gone?
“I don’t think it’s about dashing people’s hopes, but if I’ve disliked a performance, I’ve told them. We have to be real with them.”

What can we look forward to in terms of talent this series?
“Well, I think the fact the show has never done auditions in Liverpool before has really brought out the best talent. Overall, there have been about 10 acts that have really stood out for me. I’d like to mentor the boys; there are lots of strong contenders in the boys’ category this year.”

Has watching the hopefuls taken you back to when you were starting out in the music business?
“A lot of the young auditionees definitely take me back. As they come out on to the stage, full of energy, it really reminds me of my teenage years. It’s great when you get good ones because you know you could help them onto the next stage of their career. It’s a good feeling.”

The X Factor returns on Saturday, August 20 on ITV1