“There might be a surprise later – but we’re not even sure it’s going to happen.” That was the whisper from organisers at today’s X Factor 2013 launch as assembled press awaited the arrival of Gary Barlow, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh.
But it did happen, and it was a surprise.
Right before a Q&A with the four judges, Simon Cowell wandered on to the stage at London's May Fair Hotel to recycle the sentiments he’d used recently in reference to One Direction, beaming as he told the audience, “Once again, I feel like a very proud daddy."
Cowell's current baby (in terms of TV shows) is The X Factor USA, which is set to launch its make-or-break third season next month. So his appearance in London today was far from predictable.
Was there perhaps a feeling that, entering its tenth year, the UK show was missing its creator? Had Cowell's departure in 2010 left a power vacuum?
"There’s not really a head judge any more," admitted returning judge Sharon Osbourne – which must have been music to the ears of the man who once undisputedly held that title...
The X Factor returns to ITV on Saturday 31 August