Peter Pan Cowell will never know true riches



07:27 GMT, 18 April 2012

Hidden depths A new book reveals just how shallow Simon Cowell really is

Hidden depths A new book reveals just how shallow Simon Cowell really is

I’ve always found Simon Cowell peculiarly fascinating. He’s a ruthless mogul, a man who’s made himself enormously rich by persuading foolish youngsters that fame — for anyone who can hold a tune — is the only dream worth having.

Since 2001, he’s dominated popular culture in this country. We’ve loved him for his brutal honesty — ‘that was truly appalling’ — while simultaneously being horrified by his cruelty.

Our collusion in this theatre of humiliation has turned both The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent into massive successes.

But what lies beneath that Cowell veneer What really goes on inside that Botoxed, tooth-whitened, fake-tanned head with its curious flat-top of hair

The disappointing answer seems to be: not much. In fact, this mighty mogul appears to possess not so much hidden depths as hidden shallows.

Extracts from an eagerly awaited new book by the brilliant investigative journalist Tom Bower, who was given a year’s unprecedented access to Cowell and his friends, portray him not as a tortured genius but as a vain, middle-aged man who treats women like disposable playthings.

Indeed, Cowell emerges not so much a colossus as a pathetic child. He describes X Factor judges Dannii Minogue (with whom he had an affair — or ‘a few bonks’, as he charmingly puts it) and Cheryl Cole (with whom he’d like to have had one) as ‘new toys’, and says he enjoys watching the women around him grow jealous of each other: ‘I find girls fighting very amusing.’

Demeaned: Dannii Minogue

Demeaned: Dannii Minogue

He IS clearly less a lover than an ego-driven impresario. ‘I’m attracted to crazy women,’ he revealed. ‘I encourage crazy behaviour and I make them crazy. Every girl wants to be number one and they’re very territorial. I like the fight, because otherwise I’d have a dull group of girlfriends.’

So intent is he on proving his sexual prowess over and over again that one must assume he didn’t have much luck with girls as a teenager. Like many ageing bachelors, though, he fails to realise just how repellent most women find such an attitude.

Does he genuinely think his lookalike flock of big-breasted, pert-featured girlfriends fancy him for who he really is As Mrs Merton once famously asked Debbie McGee: ‘So, what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels’

Would either of them still care two hoots for him if he were to lose his fortune and his reputation tomorrow That’s a question Cowell probably never asks himself. Like many powerful men, he’s surrounded by so much sycophancy that he’s forgotten love and loyalty need to be earned.

My guess is his glory days may now be over. Yes, Britain’s Got Talent remains entertainingly watchable — but the most exciting judge on it this year is not Cowell but David Walliams, who’s proving to be not only cleverer and wittier than his paymaster, but altogether more likeable.

To be fair, Cowell knew the last series of The X Factor had lost its edge and doubtless hoped this book would help propel him forward again.

But, as the royals have discovered to their cost, you should never let too much daylight in on the magic. Only exceptional people can emerge from such scrutiny looking more interesting than they did before.

More from Sandra Parsons…

How sad: The clever girls who just want to look like Posh


It's contempt not a blazing row that kills a marriage


Childhood, freedom and the lost spirit of ’76

Has the 'era of porn' led men to think rape is OK


Why your husband IS as important as your baby


Disgrace of a nation that treats its old like animals

SANDRA PARSONS: We modern women have NEVER been better dressed

SANDRA PARSONS: Women like being single. Oh, really


Today, Cowell appears less like a towering tycoon and more like a tawdry end-of-the-pier showman.

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Daft: Sophie Raworth

Newsreader Sophie Raworth, 43 (right), says she’ll be running the London marathon again this year, despite collapsing with dehydration and losing consciousness for 20 minutes during the event last year. Proving that even very clever women — she has a degree in French and German — can sometimes be very daft indeed.

Research by a healthcare company has revealed that the worst compliment a man can pay a woman is ‘you’re looking well’. It’s what men say to invisible women — those of a certain age they don’t want to flirt with. It carries with it the implication of the unspoken rider: ‘You’re looking very well … for someone who’s old enough to be my mother.’ Are we to be congratulated merely for managing to stay alive Just tell us we look nice. How hard is that

A couple of weeks ago, I said I found it curious that, following Dennis Waterman’s revelation that he’d twice slapped and punched Rula Lenska when they were married, his current wife Pam had spoken up in his defence, but omitted to say he’d never hit her. Pam Waterman has been in touch to say Dennis has never been violent towards her. I’m delighted to hear it and happy to set the record straight.

Finish your vegetables: Life isn't fair

Finish your vegetables: Life isn't fair

Here are my rules for kids

We're lectured endlessly about all the character- forming activities that our children ought to be getting up to.

The National Trust is the latest to jump on this tedious bandwagon with its 50- point guide to things children should have done by the age of 12, including damming a stream, visiting an island and getting behind a waterfall. My own suggestions for building character in the young are far more prosaic:

1. Force yourself to go to school when you are feeling a bit ropey.

2. Finish all your vegetables.

3. Go to bed on time.

4. Watch TV only after an hour spent reading a book.

5. Put up with the brutal fact that no, life really isn’t fair.

Fiftysomething former TV executive (and mother of two ‘mortified’ teenage boys) E.L. James is the British author of Fifty Shades Of Grey, the internet book dubbed ‘Mummy porn’ that became a sensation in America and has now been published here.
She says its erotic fantasy ‘takes you away from doing the dishes and the laundry’.

Strange, the only fantasy I have when doing the dishes is ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have a housekeeper’.

Boring: Shane Warne and Liz Hurley

Boring: Shane Warne and Liz Hurley

Waxing and Warne-ing

Having studied all 19 pages of Hello!’s photoshoot and an interminably boring interview with Liz Hurley and Shane Warne, I’m tantalised by one unanswered question: Does Shane wax his legs or shave them

Cherie Blair, who we were always led to believe was a Left-wing firebrand, is busily making money from private healthcare through the private equity fund she co-founded, which is planning to open 100 private health centres.
Meanwhile, fellow lawyer Miriam Clegg — wife of the Deputy PM — is receiving substantial work (and payment) from a Moroccan mining firm accused of breaching the human rights of Saharan tribesmen.
Funny how even staunch liberal principles become elastic when money’s involved.

Way to go, Widdy!

Former Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe spent a night out with a group of 20-something women for a programme about binge-drinking to be broadcast on Radio Five Live next week, and was absolutely shocked by what she found.

The women — who included a nurse, a scientist and two teachers — admitted to going out with the deliberate aim of getting drunk and spent hundreds of pounds on vodka, wine and shots in order to achieve their aim.

One admitted it wasn’t unusual for her to spend the whole of Saturday with a hangover; they all saw no reason why they shouldn’t get drunk after a week at work.

So Ann has come up with an idea: as it’s still an offence to be drunk and incapable in public, why not blitz city centres at night and arrest every drunk found collapsed in the street or clogging up A&E — and then print their names and photographs when they turn up in court.

There may no longer be shame attached to getting drunk in public — but none of the women she interviewed wanted their full names broadcast, presumably because they feared their employers would find something shameful about it.

The concept of shame goes hand in hand with reputation, and such an old-fashioned solution to the very modern problem of binge-drinking could be brilliant.