X Factor 2011: Gary Barlow and Robbie in age rant at the show

Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow

X Factor 2011 judge Gary Barlow and pal Robbie Williams has hit out at the show's 16-year-old age limit, saying it is too young for some contestants to cope. Speaking after having to axe Luke Lucas on last night's show, Gary insisted the youngster was not old enough for the pressure of the show.

He said: “Luke is too young. I couldn’t sleep at night if I put him through. I have a responsibility here as well. Robbie was sat there, saying, ‘Was I like that at that age?’ Sixteen is too young to be in a competition with this kind of pressure. No wonder he cracked.

“There are some 16-year-olds who are more mature than others, but bless Luke – he is just not ready.”

Robbie, who joined Gary for judges' houses, added: “If it was my son or my daughter I don’t think I would be pushing them that early.

“By 18 or 19, you’ve found yourself, you’ve left school, hung out with mates, you’ve got a better sense of yourself.”

However Luke's parents disagreed, with Gavin saying: “He can cope fine with everything the show throws at him. This is his dream and it means a lot to him – he was disappointed for messing up such an amazing opportunity.

“I’m his biggest critic so if I’m saying he’s doing well he must be doing something right.”

Last night an X Factor spokesman said: “All contestants are judged and assessed individually.

“If any of our younger contestants are deemed too immature to deal with the pressures of the competition they are advised to re-apply in future years.”

However while Luke did poorly, the girls category has seen two sixteen-year-olds make the live shows. Talented teenagers Janet Devlin and Amelia Lily both join Sophie Habibis and Misha Bryan in the X Factor final 16.

PIC: Copyright Talkback Thames/Ken McKay

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