Brief Encounter with… I Can’t Sing! producer Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment is co-producing I Can’t Sing!, the musical X Factor based on The X Factor which premieres at the London Palladium next year

Simon Cowell on <i>The X Factor</i>
Simon Cowell on The X Factor

When did you first start work on the X Factor musical?

I got approached by Harry Hill and his writing partner Steve Brown about 18 months ago and
they pitched to me the idea in my office and I agreed to give them some development money.

Your own musical at the London Palladium, how does this rank in terms of excitement for you in your career?

I would say it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. I was always nervous about making
a musical and promised myself I wouldn’t do it, but, I loved the idea so much so that when I saw
the workshop and felt the buzz around everyone that day, I decided to go ahead, and I’m probably
looking forward to this more than anything else.

And, how does it feel to have Nigel Harman playing you on stage?

It was always going to happen [laughs]… I’m very happy with the choice of actor!

How do you think this will differ to anything you’ve ever done before?

It’s the craziest musical I’ve ever seen in my life, it’s really fun, it’s very bizarre, very grand and colourful. The songs are great and it has one of the weirdest endings I have ever seen in my life.

If you can describe I Can’t Sing! in one word, what would that be?


Isn’t this just another X Factor cash cow?

We’ve been offered all sorts of things surrounding X Factor in the past, most of which we’ve turned down. We put a bit of development money into this and I never thought it would materialise, if I’m honest. But then I went to the workshop and I was laughing so much that I thought ‘we’ve got to make this show’.

Did Harry’s idea appeal to you?

I initially thought the idea of an X Factor musical might be a bit pompous and look, as you say, like a cash cow. I wanted it to be a celebration of the show, without taking it too seriously, and Harry’s observations of the show, and of me, were absolutely spot on.

You’ve previously said you don’t like musicals

Well I’ve got to be honest I’ve sat in some musicals before and walked out after ten minutes. I’m not going to say which ones because I know the people involved! But then there are others – Jersey Boys for example – which I’ve seen more than once. If the songs and the story are good, I love them.

Could I Can’t Sing be a film in the long run?

I never thought about that before but yes, if it works out that would be amazing.

This is a conflation of an open press Q&A and an interview with Cowell at the launch of I Can’t Sing!

See Also: Harry Hill on why Simon Cowell is the modern-day Barnum