Louish Walsh: Christopher Maloney doesn't have the X Factor

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Maloney said Barlow was the "best mentor anyone could have" and said he considered him "a really good friend".

Quizzed on the reported fall in audience figures for The X Factor, Barlow said: "I don't know how they work audience figures, I'm not an expert.

"I think they play the show about six times over the weekend and altogether it gets about 19 million viewers. Now that sounds a lot of people to me.

Click "View Gallery" above to read the stories behind this year's finalists

"So I don't know the ups, (the) downs. It's not why I'm on the show. I'm on to judge the acts and help them."

He said he had enjoyed this year's series compared with his debut as a judge last season.

"I think we will probably see four or even five albums being made from the talent this year. So I feel proud.

"I think we have had a really good crop of talent this year. They are still out there. You wonder where it is, don't you, thinking it's the 10th year? Is there anyone left to go on the show? But they just keep on coming."

Scherzinger, who did not appear to be relishing the chilly northern weather, spoke highly of her remaining acts.

She said: "I think that I'm just really blessed to have been able to work with such brilliant talent.

"For me, it is my job to just protect them and to build them up to give them whatever tools that they needed to do their thing because they were born for it."

Arthur and Douglas showed no signs of fierce rivalry as they said they would buy each other's albums.

Arthur had an eye on the future as he said: "My life has changed massively already. I just hope to be achieving longevity out of it and I am making music for many years.

"We will help our families with whatever we achieve financially.

"We (him and Douglas) have both come from poor lifestyles."

Douglas said: "We want to make incredible albums."

Asked what he was most looking forward to after the final, he quipped: "Eating and sleeping."

Contostavlos said she was making the most of not having an act in the final but conceded that she would be rooting for Arthur to succeed.

"I feel like I still have a contestant," she said. "I'm going to be cheering for James like he is my own.

"I'm going to be there banging the desk, jumping up - 'Vote for James!'."

She was less forthcoming when questioned about the reported midweek sales of her debut album, The Female Boss, which is said to be struggling to make the top 20 despite her high profile on The X Factor and performing to millions of viewers last weekend.

She said: "I think that is irrelevant to what is going on (here)."

Walsh gallantly stepped in as he interjected: "I think she did fantastically well on the show last week. I loved her hoodie.

"It's about having a long career, not a short career."

He said he had never seen her so nervous when she sang on the programme.

Asked if she was nervous, Contostavlos replied: "Yes - terrified."

Walsh mused whether any of the current judges would be on the show next season as they reach the end of their contracts.

"We might all be gone," he said.

Asked what his highlight has been of working on The X Factor, he said: "I loved working with Simon. When Simon is around it's always a better show for me, I've got to be honest.

"He gets the most out of everybody on the show. He is a producer as well as a judge."

PA

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