With a nod to Cole’s settlement, which followed her swift departure from the now axed US version of the show, Cowell says, “To be fair to Cheryl, it hasn’t been about the money with her,” he tells BANG Showbiz. “It’s about whether she wants to do it and whether she can handle the pressure, so I’m not quite sure yet.”
Cowell and Cole both left the show four years ago and the music mogul says, “I want to go back to where we left off in 2010… if we do another year like that it’ll be amazing.”
Viewing figures sure seem to support that idea. The 2010 final, which crowned Matt Cardle as champ, peaked with an audience of 19.4 million, holding on to an average of 14.1 million throughout. In contrast, Sam Bailey’s win at the end of last year claimed an average of just 8.5 million.
So is Cole the magic ingredient?
The former Girls Aloud star’s on-screen banter with Cowell was entertaining enough without the whopper of a back story the pair now have. And if the rumours are to be believed, Cole has been given the green light to say what she wants about Mr Cowell if she returns.
“Simon is ready for the fury of Cheryl onscreen,” a source told the Daily Star, “He has made it clear she can say what she wants to him, and get the fans booing and hissing him at any stage.’
Who doesn’t love a pantomime villain, eh?
And remember, Cole was also rather good at backing a winner. Alexandra Burke and Joe McElderry scooped the title under her mentorship. And she was there when the panel decided to team up a few boys who just so happened to become One Direction.
Throw in a heck of a lot of stories about off-stage rows with fellow judge Dannii Minogue, some killer outfits, a few tears, an occasional performance of her own and… bang! It’s a one-woman lesson in reality show judging.
Watch some of Cole’s best bits on the show – then cast your vote below.
Emma is RadioTimes.com’s resident reality TV expert and is most likely to be found chasing Simon Cowell down the street, cancelling her social life to keep up with the latest batch of sob stories and trying to get selfies with celebrities. Emma is a chat show addict and quotes Friends more than is probably healthy.