Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant asked to replace Simon Cowell as a judge on American Idol

Tennant believes producers want a 'bitchy gay Englishman' to fill Cowell's shoes

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The Independent Culture

Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant has been asked to replace Simon Cowell as a judge on American Idol.

Tennant said he believed producers “wanted a bitchy gay Englishman” to join the judging panel following Cowell’s departure from the Fox show in 2010.

After claiming he would turn down a judging role on BBC’s The Voice if it was offered, the musician told Popjustice that he had been approached by the American talent how.

“They wanted me to fly to Los Angeles for an interview with them and, frankly, I didn’t want to fly to Los Angeles for a half hour interview,” he said.

They settled on a conference call, when Tennant told them: “I’ve never seen American Idol but I don’t like the sound of it.”

The producer allegedly said “Well this is why we love you! You’re so opinionated!” and Tennant replied: “I’ll probably just be really rude to everyone.” The producer again said, “This is why we love you – you’re so opinionated!”

Tennant continued: “Anyway, I got them to send me a DVD of the programme. I watched the first two minutes and I just thought, ‘I can’t do this’. I couldn’t do the bit where you come out, holding hands with the judges, and just stand there. I was flattered to be asked, though.”

He said he refused the offer in part because he felt his work as one half of the Pet Shop Boys would have been overshadowed by his role on the show.

“I would have just become Neil Tennant the TV personality,” he said. “I’ve never had any interest in that sort of thing – and I’ve had some quite interesting offers over the years to present arts programmes for BBC Two and Channel 4.”

After Simon Cowell left the show, new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez were brought in to work alongside Randy Jackson. They both departed after two seasons.

This year Mariah Carey secured a rumoured $18m deal to be an American Idol judge, but she failed to reverse the show’s ratings decline. The 2013 finale logged just 14.3m viewers, compared to 21.5m in 2012.