Fearne Cotton’s X Factor clash with Simon Cowell over Dannii ‘leg fondle’

Fearne Cotton was still a relatively unknown star when she joined X Factor spin-off, The Xtra Factor, in 2007.

She only stayed for one series before quitting and being replaced by her good friend Holly Willoughby, but during that time admitted she struggled to strike up a rapport with boss Simon Cowell .

"I found it difficult with Simon Cowell, to say whether we actually ever got on," she told Company magazine in 2010.

"He's charming, a good giggle but, at the same time, you're always aware that he's this authority, and you respect that."



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What's more, she described Simon as a "massive flirt" and said she once had to reprimand him for apparently fondling judge Dannii Minogue's leg while the cameras were rolling.

“Simon does flirt with Dannii a hell of a lot," she told heat magazine back in 2007.

“During one of my links the other week, I was interviewing Dannii when he squeezed her thigh, off shot! Thinking everyone could see it, I went, ‘Simon!’

“There’s definitely a bit of flirting going on."

Rumours of an affair between Simon and Dannii began to circulate from the moment the Australian star joined the panel in 2007.

After announcing that she couldn't wait to be "up close and personal on a daily basis with Simon," the pair were spotted holding hands in a car following Children In Need.

At the time Dannii, 40, admitted to flirting with Simon, but denied fancying him. She said: “But that man could flirt with a book, a wall, anything.

“I don’t fancy him and I don’t have a type I go for, but I like a man who makes me laugh, who’s intelligent and speaks his mind.”

But in an interview for unauthorised biography, Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell, the reality mogul claimed he was in 'genuine love'.

“I had a crush on her. It was Dannii’s hair, the sexy clothes, and the t**s," he revealed in comments said to have prompted Dannii to stop talking to him.

“I was like a schoolboy. She was foxy. She was a real man’s girl. Very feminine."

One person who wasn't happy about the apparent development was their fellow judge Sharon Osbourne, who had sat with just Simon and Louis Walsh on the panel since day dot.

And Sharon didn't hold back when it came to slagging Dannii off, telling Piers Morgan's Life Stories she quit because she couldn't stand even sitting next to her.

"I didn't hate her because hatred is very close to love and takes a lot of emotion and I don't have that time for her. She was like an insect, a mosquito that wouldn't go away," she said harshly.

Meanwhile, in Sharon's autobiography Unbreakable, she openly accused Dannii of having it off with Simon.

"She had an uppity attitude as she was f***ing the boss," Sharon wrote.

"She clearly felt shagging Simon gave her vicarious power and it was so immature, not to mention deeply irritating to deal with."

For Dannii's part, she later said her four years on the show and been 'publicly destroyed' week in, week out by Sharon 'broke' her.

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