The public face of Simon Cowell has been a fixture in our living rooms for almost the entire 21st century. As a starmaker and record company mogul, his influence stretches back further still. But for all his fame and wealth, Cowell remains a private, unostentatious man, unpretentious in his tastes and loyal to his friends.
One such confidant is Professor Jonathan Shalit OBE, and in this two-part profile, the entertainment entrepreneur takes Radio 2 listeners behind the velvet rope to reveal the Simon Cowell he knows. The programmes are based on an extensive and informal conversation in Cowell's west London home, where he reveals never-before-heard detail of his fascinating life and times.
Across the two programmes, the close friends discuss Cowell's family background, his years of teenage rebellion, early setbacks and ultimate triumphs. He talks about the artists and songs that inspired him, the stars he helped to create and who helped him to his greatest successes, how family life has changed him and how he feels about being perhaps the greatest music svengali of his generation.
In Part 1, we'll find out what his house is like, what he has on the walls and why home feels very different since he has become a father. He spontaneously fields surprise questions from some of his famous friends, and there's delightful detail about the contents of his wardrobe; the time he knocked himself unconscious; what his son Eric thinks of what he does for a living; why he would rather host a party than be a guest at one; and why, if he was still with us, Cowell's idol Frank Sinatra wouldn't be on Snapchat.
The second part of Radio 2's exclusive profile of the man who has dominated the entertainment world in the 21st century, in conversation at his west London home with good friend and fellow industry mogul Jonathan Shalit.
Last week, after a revealing portrayal of his upbringing, we left Cowell embarking on his career in music with his first job as a runner. Now the story comes up to date, documenting all of the ups and downs that got him to where he is now. They include the time he spent working as an estate agent; his first attempts at running a label, which almost bankrupted him; how he learned about records, production and marketing from his longtime friend Pete Waterman; and his discovery of the potential of working with brands and the power of television.
The show features contributions from some of the people who've been part of his adventures, including his early business partner, Ellis Rich, and one of his first signings, UK pop chart-topper Sonia. We hear the song that he and Louis Walsh played while driving along Sunset Boulevard in a Bentley, find out whether it's true that he turned down Take That, and get his memories of stars he helped to create, such as Kelly Clarkson, Susan Boyle and James Arthur.
Also featured are more surprise questions, pitched at Simon without any prior warning, by two of his celebrity colleagues, as he reveals the person he would most like to be and the act he most wishes he could have signed.