Former X Factor finalist Niki Evans has branded the show ‘ageist’.

The 36-year-old, who was mentored by Louis Walsh in the over-25s category in 2007, said she does not believe an older woman could ever win the ITV talent show.

Niki said: “I will eat my hat if an over-25 woman ever wins The X Factor.”

She added: “Age is a horrible, horrible thing to have to go through. But I was very lucky, touch wood. There’s only a couple of us who got to fourth (position) – of my age group, women.

“I’d be very surprised if an over-25 woman ever won it. It’s not just ageist – it’s sexist as well because you get the little cute boys, and since the four age groups have come in, because it’s over-25s, it’s groups – under-25 boys and under-25 girls. Since that it’s got much much worse because you’re getting twice the amount of young people coming through.”

Niki believes the show’s new audition format with a live audience makes it easier.

She said: “It’s a lot easier now isn’t it? You get backing tracks, you get a big audience so I don’t think it’s as scary as walking into one room with four people staring at you with no music so I think it’s a lot easier these days.”

Niki’s new single, I Feel Love, a cover of Donna Summer’s 1977 hit is out on September 21.