Gary Barlow confirms X Factor exit paving way for Simon Cowell return

Take That front man will step down from his role as head judge after three years on the talent - but will we see the format creator return from the USA?

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Gary Barlow will step down as an X Factor judge after the current tenth series of the talent show, the Take That frontman confirmed live on ITV on Saturday night.

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“I’m so glad for my last year on the show, I get to mentor you” Barlow told boyband Rough Copy on the first X Factor live show whilst critiquing their performance of Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight. 

Barlow’s exit has been rumoured for many months, but has never been officially confirmed until now. It is understood the singer/songwriter wants to free up his time to allow another large-scale Take That project. 

And with head judge Barlow leaving and Simon Cowell’s US X Factor struggling to pull in the big ratings Stateside, speculation is rife that the show’s creator could be set for a sensational return to the original UK show in 2014.

Cowell left the UK show after the 2010 series to launch the format in America.  He continues to judge on Britain’s Got Talent, but due to the UK and US shows running concurrently in the autumn; he is unable to appear on both. X Factor USA’s ratings have struggled in its third series on Fox in the US, prompting speculation that it may be axed in the coming months.

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Of course, as this is the X Factor, don’t expect any firm announcements any time soon from Mr Cowell.  But for now, let the speculation begin…