Simon Cowell has defended his decision to hold The X Factor auditions in front of a live audience – despite it proving unpopular with some viewers.

Fans of the show have hit out at the new format on the Internet over the weekend, expressing their dislike and comparing it unfavourably to the format of Britain’s Got Talent.

However Cowell has said that it was that show – and in particular Susan Boyle’s first audition – which prompted the changes.

“Susan Boyle changed auditions forever,” Cowell told The Sun.

“If she had walked on to The X Factor like it used to be, it would not have been as dramatic.

“Giving people a crowd to perform in front of makes it harder and more exciting,” he added.

“It makes or breaks you. It can turn a good performance into an incredible one.”

Cowell pointed to the performance of Reading schoolteacher Danyl Johnson – which he described on Saturday’s show as “the best first audition I have ever heard” as an example of how the new format has improved the show.

He gave an incredible audition. He’s got a seriously, seriously good voice.

“You watch it and it immediately has the wow factor. The show has stepped up a gear.”