I MUST own up to watching the X Factor each week even though I have grown a bit bored with the format and the sense of being manipulated by the show.

My guilty pleasure is the bit where another wannabe superstar pop singer bites the dust each week.

I had the pleasure to work with host Dermot O’Leary once and he is a nice guy, but I grow weary of all the fawning over guest stars and phrases like “there is a lot of loving in the room tonight for you”.

Then there is the strange studio audience which seems willing to give a standing ovation to anything that moves on stage and the judges who occasionally argue with Simon Cowell, but would never really risking upsetting him and their million pound appearance fees.

However, I guess it is difficult to argue with 17 million viewers, although in reality that means the other 43 million residents have other things to occupy themselves.

What I must bow down to is the global brand known as Simon Cowell as he stands all powerful in the world of American and British television. I hear ITV are giving him personally £50 million just to ensure he stays aboard the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent for the next three years, so the man has done good.

Four years ago, I suggested reviving the commemorative plaque unveilings to celebrate successful film and TV people who had connections with the studios of our town. The first two I recommended were Sir Roger Moore and Simon. In the case of Roger it was to recognise the six years he spent at Elstree Studios starring in The Saint TV series and it was great fun reuniting him with former co-stars and crew.

I picked Simon as he would appeal to the younger generation and had grown up in Barnet Lane, so was in fact a local boy made good. In order that the invite did not get lost in his vast in-tray I arranged for it to be personally handed to him during a recording of the X Factor in 2006. The result was that a few days later Simon dropped me a note saying he was very flattered and would be delighted to accept.

I then needed to find a surprise guest unveiler and luckily his old mentor Pete Waterman agreed to assume the role. Finally I arranged for the Borehamwood Community Choir to perform a version of My Way with reworded lyrics and entitled Si’s Way.

The ceremony itself was fun with invited community guests at Elstree Studios and a local singer Rob Dodkin bravely performed an original number he had composed accompanied only with an acoustic guitar. It took some guts and talent to perform just feet away from Simon and Pete with no rehearsals, unlike the X Factor contestants.

Pete revealed that several years earlier he and Simon had worked at Elstree on the music for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and it was their banter and bickering that caused a television producer to suggest they should appear as themselves and the idea of Pop Idol came about. Simon said that Pete was supposed to be the “heavy” on the judging panel, but he “went soft” so Simon got the task.

Simon also revealed that he had started in showbiz as a £16-a-week runner at Elstree Studios in the late Seventies, but was sacked after one month and that our plaque ceremony was the first time he had been given any sort of award in his life. Subsequently he has clocked up quite a few.

After it was all over Simon sent me a nice letter saying how much he had enjoyed the event and added: “I seldom get emotional nowadays but the event got to me, especially the effort everybody had put into it on a voluntary basis.”

There is no doubt Simon is a tough businessman and an excellent “panto villain” on television but I know he does a lot of private charity work and I suspect still has fond memories of the town in which he grew up and started his career.