Joe McElderry has said that he is hoping his experience on The X Factor will give him an advantage over his rivals in Popstar to Operastar.

The former X Factor winner will join a host of other singers – including former Steps star Claire Richards, Bucks Fizz’s Cheryl Baker and Ultravox’s Midge Ure – in the new series of the show when it begins on Sunday.

And he admitted that in some ways he was on familiar ground.

“I’ve already been in that environment of having to learn a song really quickly and then perform it,” he said.

“I’m glad because I think having to sing opera is hard enough, but having to sing it in front of so many people makes it even harder.”

Meanwhile fellow performer Claire Richards has admitted she got a bit lost for words when she met the contestants’ mentor , opera singer Katherine Jenkins.

“I was so nervous the first day I met Katherine. She asked me to sing one of my songs and I just went all silly, it took me about 10 minutes to pluck up the courage to start!” she said.

“I said I would sing Tragedy and Katherine said she was really hoping I would say that but she didn’t want to pressure me.”

Popstar To Operastar, which also features Toploader singer Joseph Washbourn, Pussycat Dolls star Melody Thornton, Erasure frontman Andy Bell and soul singer Jocelyn Brown, begins on ITV1 on Sunday at 8pm.