Former X Factor runner-up Rhydian Roberts has said failing to win the 2007 series was a bonus for his career.

The Welsh crooner had been the favourite to win the ITV1 talent show until Leon Jackson's duet with Kylie Minogue helped him to victory.

But while 2006 winner Leona Lewis has been hugely successful since winning the contest - earning Grammy nominations and US number one single - Jackson's latest single Don't Call This Love only reached number three in the UK charts.

Roberts signed a deal with Simon Cowell's Syco label and sold over 150,000 copies of his debut release in the first two weeks, achieving the highest-selling album for a male charts newcomer in 2008.

And the flamboyant singer believes Cowell has offered him more creative independence than Jackson.

"In hindsight, not winning has probably been the best thing because it has given me more freedom to develop my career as I want to," he told Derby's Evening Telegraph newspaper.

"I just felt at the time I had let a lot of people down, and myself, by not winning."

Roberts, 25, will soon be embarking on his first UK tour, beginning in April.

"I love playing to a live audience, feeling that instant feedback and I just can't wait for the tour to start," he explained.

"Right now, I feel like I am the luckiest person around and I am living my lifetime's dream."

03/01/2009 19:49:16