THE RUMOUR: Falling ratings for the live shows are costing ITV hundreds of thousands a week in lost revenue, causing Simon Cowell not only to consider bringing back Cheryl Cole: the X Factor overlord will also, as well as returning to the show himself to make guest appearances, reinstate both Dannii Minogue and Sharon Osbourne. We'd be back to the heady, halcyon days of Leon Jackson, Eoghan Quigg and Same Difference as the series 4 dream team is reunited, with Cheryl as a bonus. There might even be a move to poach The Voice host Holly Willoughby, currently starring in ITV1's surprise Surprise Surprise reboot, as presenter in place of Dermot O'Leary.
QUOTE FROM A "SOURCE" WHO PROBABLY DOESN'T EXIST: "This is costing thousands - if not millions. Advertisers pay for people to watch their ads and if there are fewer people watching ITV has to make it up elsewhere... The first three series relied solely on genuine British talent and a chemistry between the judges that simply hasn’t been there since Sharon left. By series three they had produced an international star with Leona Lewis and the show had real credibility. Now it’s just a circus freak show with the ringmaster trying to pull the strings on the other side of the Atlantic. If Simon can get the original judges and format back he will truly have pulled victory from the jaws of defeat." (The Sun)
RADIOTIMES.COM TRUTH RATING: 2/5. Dannii Minogue and Sharon Osbourne? Does anyone really want to see them back? Well, weighing in their favour is the likelihood of departures from the panel next year. Gary Barlow and Tulisa Contostavlos are both reportedly struggling with fulfilling other commitments, and look ready to go: Gary because the whole show seems to be genuinely annoying him this year, Tulisa because she ran out of things to say to contestants halfway through the 2011 live shows. But what would really boost ratings would be Cowell, Cole or a great new judge, not a return to the mid-2000s. As for those lower viewing figures, ITV says The X Factor is still getting 10 million once you add in catch-up viewing.