We reckon Nicole Scherzinger – aka Scherzy, La Scherze, Jah-Zinger – looks safe. She bantered Tulisa Contostavlos to death in her inaugural series last year, mentored the winner and the runner-up, and has expressed an interest in becoming slightly more British generally, possibly as a result of her classic ale-and-scratchings bender last winter with James Arthur in a seedy Middlesbrough boozer. She's ours now.
Robbie Williams is persistently rumoured to be the big new signing. The middle-aged cabaret hoofer was mooted as a replacement for Gary Barlow, who might be too busy and credible to serve a third term on the panel – but the more recent, super-exciting rumour is that Robbie will join without replacing Gary, facing off against his former Take That nemesis every single week in a thrilling re-enactment of the fiery end of Take That in the late 90s. Louis Walsh could perhaps remind us all of a little, Irish Mark Owen.
Talking of Louis Walsh - he will, of course, be back. You can't ignore him. You can't kill him. He cannot be stopped. Rumour has it the bosses of ITV want him off the programme, but rest assured this won't make any difference. He's like Japanese knotweed.
Cheryl Cole remains an outside bet. "Insiders" and "sources" who all probably don't exist can't decide, when talking to the tabloids, whether Cole is in the frame because Simon Cowell is so desperate to woo her back, or whether she isn't because she's happy with her present career and sees no reason to return. "She is enjoying working with Girls Aloud for their reunion tour," a source who probably doesn't exist told the Daily Star Sunday yesterday.
According to basically everyone, Tulisa Contostavlos is toast – how much this is based on fact and how much on the assumption that she sulked her way out of a job by being tremendously dull on last year's show is unclear. "Quite apart from her performance on last year’s show, you can’t have a singer whose album only reached no35 in the charts sitting in judgment on other singers," an insider who probably doesn't exist told The Sun.
Melanie Brown also seems to be out of the running: rumours that she wouldn't be on the UK X Factor because she was sticking with the Australian X Factor turned out to be half-true. She isn't sticking with the Australian X Factor, but that's because she is moving to America's Got Talent, where she'll form a dream judging line-up with Howard Stern and Howie Mandel. "It's so exciting to be bringing some Girl Power to the panel!" said Scary Spice in a special statement.
When things get really quiet some people even put forward Sharon Osbourne, whom Mel B replaces on America's Got Talent, as a possible comeback queen. Surely not. The latest is that she may swap with Scary and join the Australian X Factor. But wait! We hear you cry. What about the New Zealand X Factor? Who's judging that? We'll tell you: Daniel Bedingfield and Melanie Blatt. Plus two Kiwis you've not heard of.
Finally, David Bowie has been asked to join the UK X Factor, as a mentor rather than a full-time judge, as confirmed by Simon Cowell himself. "He hasn't said yes yet," Cowell optimistically told the Daily Mail, weighing up his chances of persuading the coolest rock star in the universe to leave low-key semi-retirement in Manhattan and make a guest appearance on a gaudy, ailing talent show. "He's a great songwriter, he has massive influence on music today and he's 100% credible," said Cowell, summing up Bowie's standing in the industry.
RADIOTIMES.COM'S PREDICTED X FACTOR 2013 PANEL:
Louis Walsh, Nicole Scherzinger, Robbie Williams and someone nobody's thought of yet. Is Emeli Sande free?