It’s happening. Simon Cowell is returning to the UK X Factor panel this year.
That’s one seat filled, three to go.
Take That’s Gary Barlow has definitely gone, we know that. Sharon Osbourne seemed to only be back for one series, but perhaps with a win under her belt will be tempted to stick around? Louis Walsh can’t seem to make his mind up whether he’s coming or going and news on Nicole Scherzinger’s decision is thin on the ground.
So that could be three more judges ITV are on the hunt for, or none.
“Despite all the rumours, ITV and the producers have not decided on the rest of the judging panel quite yet,” says the newly returned head judge. “You’ll just have to wait and see….”
There’s certainly plenty of rumours about who could take up one of the spots. Former X Factor judge Cheryl Cole forever seems to be linked with a return, with Cowell himself hinting they could come back together.
Olly Murs joked to Jonathan Ross at the end of last year that he could be the “new Louis Walsh”, taking him from competitor through Xtra Factor host and guest judge and onto the panel.
Fellow former guest judge Rita Ora’s name has been hinted at as well as another familiar X Factor face Dannii Minogue.
But Simon Cowell is nothing if not full of surprises. So an unexpected curve ball wouldn’t actually be that… well, unexpected.
Cowell could look within his own camp – whip a One Direction lad out for a few months. Or a Little Mix member? It would be sure to rally a young audience around the show. Or go big and call upon someone like Katy Perry who regularly guest stars on the show?
The X Factor took things up a notch for the 10th series last year. Format changes included the new chairs stage at Bootcamp, with acts put through, pulled back out, put through again. Cowell’s other show Britain’s Got Talent has just added in the new Golden Buzzer format, adding an extra level of excitement as acts can be sent straight through to live shows. Cowell himself has tweeted that he’s had a great idea to change the format of his shows (he didn’t say what, of course), so a new face on the panel could be the least of the changes.
Whatever happens, Cowell is back and he’ll want viewing figure glory.