Simon Cowell brands Chris O'Dowd ignorant for attacking 'racist' X Factor voters

The judge hit back at the actor's 'ridiculous' claims

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The Independent Culture

Simon Cowell has called  Chris O'Dowd "ridiculous" after the Bridesmaids actor accused viewers of The X Factor of being "so racist".

"We are the least racist show you could possibly find in the world," the 54-year-old judge told EntertainmentWise at the Britain's Got Talent press launch.

"So not only is [O'Dowd] ignorant, it's actually insulting to hear him say that and it’s insulting to our audience.”

Cowell went on to list previous black stars of the ITV talent competition, including Alexandra Burke, boyband JLS and one of the show's greatest successes, Leona Lewis.

O'Dowd, 34, claims to be a "big fan" of The X Factor, but moaned earlier this week that "the viewing public is so racist, all the black, strong singers go out in round five every year".


Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote which promotes racial justice in public life, supported O'Dowd's comments.

"I wouldn't describe voters as racist but there's something more subtle going on which makes it harder for contestants with a 'darker' physical complexion to win public support," he said. "Generally the 'blacker' the artist is, the harder it is for the public to warm to them."

But producers of The X Factor have rejected claims of racism, arguing 40 per cent of the 2013 finalists were black or mixed race.

A spokesperson said: "The X Factor has a long-standing record of celebrating a diverse range of artists, including two former winners, Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke, and numerous others who have reached the final stages of the competition, including this year's semi-finalists Rough Copy."

Last year's contestant Hannah Barrett described being subjected to "horrible racist comments" during her time on the show, telling Reveal magazine that most of the insults come from "black people who just have lighter skin than me."