Simon Cowell has called Chris O'Dowd "ignorant" for accusing X Factor viewers of being racist.

The Bridesmaids star yesterday (February 11) commented that although he is a fan of the music reality show, "viewers are so racist, all the black, strong singers go out in round five every year."

X Factor judge Cowell has now retorted that O'Dowd's comments are "ignorant" and "insulting".

He told Entertainmentwise: "We are the least racist show you could possibly find in the world. So not only is he ignorant, it's actually insulting to hear him say that. And it's insulting to our audience."

Cowell then listed previously X Factor stars Alexandra Burke, JLS and Leona Lewis, before adding: "It's ridiculous."

Simon Woolley, the director of Operation Black Vote, an organisation promoting racial justice, had backed O'Dowd, saying: "I wouldn't describe voters as racist, but there's something more subtle going on which makes it harder for contestants with a 'darker' physical complexion to win public support.

"Generally the 'blacker' the artist is, the harder it is for the public to warm to them."