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Dermot O’Leary on the ‘unattractive’ pressure put on female stars

The X Factor host said he is ‘glad we don’t live in those times anymore’ as he recalled the industry 20 years ago.


Dermot O’Leary has spoken about the ‘unattractive’ pressures put on female stars (Ian West/PA)

Dermot O’Leary has spoken about the ‘unattractive’ pressures put on female stars (Ian West/PA)

Dermot O’Leary has spoken about the ‘unattractive’ pressures put on female stars (Ian West/PA)

Dermot O’Leary has said he is glad women in the entertainment industry feel less pressured to take part in lingerie photo shoots than they used to.

The X Factor host and BBC Radio 2 presenter said the push for his female counterparts to take part in such shoots in men’s magazines was “unattractive”.

O’Leary told restaurant critic and broadcaster Jay Rayner on his Out To Lunch podcast that “it helps being a guy” in terms of being in the spotlight.

I'm so glad we don't live in those times anymoreDermot O'Leary

He added: “Especially, maybe not so much now, but definitely back in the FHM, Maxim, sort of, swimsuit (days).

“It would be the done thing to do a lingerie shoot for FHM or one of those kinds of magazines. There was a huge pressure on my contemporaries, the women, to do that, and I always found that quite unattractive.

“I’m so glad we don’t live in those times anymore, and it’s incredible how far – because you’d never think that now – how far we’ve come in 20 years.”

O’Leary, 46, started his career as a radio presenter on BBC Essex before becoming part of the original T4 line-up on TV in the late 1990s.

He went on to front Big Brother’s Little Brother on Channel 4 from 2001, and he told Rayner that his success on the Big Brother companion show almost stopped him from joining The X Factor in 2007.

“Do you ever get calls where – and I’ve spoken to a few of my mates that are actors about this – where you get offered that big gig, you know you’re going to take it and you know you want to take it, but immediately in your head you make lists of why you shouldn’t be doing it?” he said.


Jay Rayner (PA)

Jay Rayner (PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Jay Rayner (PA)

“So, I was on Channel 4, doing a show that was rating well, couple of million, (it) had its own little audience.

“It’s like going from coaching and managing, player managing, a decent football team to suddenly being transferred to Arsenal and saying ‘Right, you’re playing up front now. Go and score some goals.'”

He said that he is “hugely ambitious, but at the same time, it’s 50/50”.

O’Leary added: “Part of you has this game plan, but I’ve never really been beholden to it, because all the decisions I’ve had to make in my career have come at me left-field, and they haven’t really been entwined with my plan, they’ve kind of sideswiped me.

“So, suddenly you’ve got to make room for that. I didn’t plan to do X Factor, I didn’t plan to do Radio 2, but these two constants in my life over the last 15 years certainly didn’t fall at my doorstep, but I had to, sort of, alter my ambition.”

Out To Lunch with Jay Rayner featuring Dermot O’Leary is out on Tuesday November 19.