Simon Cowell was once known as television’s most vicious judge, with the music mogul striking fear into the heart of contestants on The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, and Pop Idol.
If there was anything not to his liking you would be hearing about it. His reputation for savage insults, damning criticisms, and blunt comments made so many waves that he was picked to judge American Idol shortly after.
He had comparisons to the meanest people on television in the early naughties – from Judge Judy and The Weakest Link’s Anne Robinson, and everyone held their breath when he started a sentence with “I don’t mean to be rude, but…” when he was on screen. Simon also was known to look the contestants in the eye and give a shrug after giving his critical comments.
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But in recent years, Simon, now 62, is less savage and blunt with his comments, which was highlighted further when he took the time out of Britain’s Got Talent’s live semi-final to apologise to one of the acts for upsetting them recently.
After he was unimpressed by semi-finalist Matrick’s Illusion, he was his usual, critical self – not hesitating to describe it as “not magical enough”.
Underwhelmed by the performance, he hit the buzzer, and said: “I buzzed because I didn’t feel it was magical enough.
“There was a lot of chaos, and whereas I like these big magic acts compared to cards, we had a magician on a few days ago who I thought was so much better.
“I didn’t think this… this lacked, I don’t know, star power for me.”
Like plenty of his comments in the past, the contestants took them to heart – with one young girl in the group being brought to tears by the criticism and Simon finding out afterwards that this was the case.
And as the country watched, Simon took the time to apologise before going on to praise the performance of another semi-finalist, Welsh of the West End.
He said: “By the way, I have to say something.
“You know going back to the very first act, I didn’t realise I’d really upset someone. I just need to apologise to her, a girl called Lamala, and I feel really awful.
“I now hate myself,” the judge admitted.
“Anyway, got that out of the way, back to you,” he told the act in front of him.
The rest of the judges were taken by surprise at Simon’s remorse, but this isn’t the first time that he has shown his more sensitive side, with one big factor making the difference in his previously vicious demeanour; fatherhood
Back in 2019, when his son, Eric, who he shares with his fiancée Lauren Silverman, was five years old, the judge appeared on Lorraine to talk about how fatherhood has changed him.
In a heartfelt interview, he admitted that life is “more simple and fun” since becoming a father, adding: “I see my life through his eyes now and it’s much more simple and it’s much more fun.”
He said: “When you become a dad, something clicks in you, it’s all about them. You become very protective and importantly, part of the reason I changed everything in my life.”
Simon also spoke about the impact of Eric on his health and his work, too – with the TV judge switching to a strict vegan diet to improve his health, as well as cutting back his working duties.
He said: “I was like a vampire, I realised that I was going to sleep between five and seven in the morning and then the trouble with that is, no matter if you get six hours, eight hours, you always wake up tired, that’s the problem…
“So along with the diet, I changed my hours so I go to sleep at 10pm and I now have breakfast at 8.30am. It’s almost like a complete reversal.”
Eric’s influence played a major part in his lifestyle changes, he said: “I’ve got to be honest with you, that was a big part of it. It just didn’t feel right that I couldn’t explain to someone of his age that I’d been working all night and I’m tired in the afternoon…
“Just, it bothered me, so I thought, I’m just going to do it. On the weekend we went jet skiing together, we saw seals, I’m teaching him how to now do off-road biking, all that kind of stuff, go-karting.”
Their close relationship blossomed from there, speaking on the Kelly Clarkson Show in 2021 about a seven-book series they signed with Hachette Children’s Group in February 2020.
Called Wishfits, the series will be about magical and unusual creatures. “It’s been brilliant,” Simon said of the project. “I never thought I would do something like this.”
He expanded on his relationship with Eric, saying that the love he feels for him he hadn’t felt since before he lost his parents.
He said: “After I lost my parents, I genuinely felt I would never feel that kind of love for anyone ever again. I thought that was it… until I saw the scan of him for the first time.
“From that moment I saw the scan, I was like ‘That is it, I’m besotted.’ Now I just cannot imagine my life without him. He’s the most amazing thing that ever happened to me. I adore him.”
Recently, Eric was spotted on Amanda Holden’s Instagram page – where he sat in his dad’s seat alongside Amanda’s daughter Hollie Rose Hughes, and Alesha Dixon’s eldest daughter, Azura Ononye.
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