The X Factor 2012: Gary Barlow admits he prefers Rylan Clark to Johnny Robinson!

Rylan ClarkControversial X Factor 2012 finalist Rylan Clark has scored a rare compliment from Gary Barlow, who now says he's less irritating than Johnny Robinson!

Gary has made no secret of his distaste for the Essex singer over the past few weeks, having relentlessly criticised his performances while mentor Nicole Scherzinger defended his 'entertainment' value.

But, speaking to the official X Factor website, Gary admitted he prefers Rylan to Johnny - the novelty act from last year's series, known for shamefully flirting with him during the live shows.

The Take That frontman said: "I think Rylan is more of a popstar than Johnny was. Although, Johnny played along with it – he got the joke. Whereas Rylan doesn’t!"

He also responded to bandmate Robbie Williams' support of Rylan, joking: "I still can’t believe it. After all this time! All those years spent rekindling our friendship and making all those songs together. That’s it, back to default!

"I don’t think he likes Rylan. He likes annoying me. Robbie’s really enjoying this!

The X Factor 2012 continues this Saturday, when the nine remaining finalists will be singing various Number 1 hits.