Show bosses are promising big changes on The X Factor this year. Mainly because it’s been going for eleven series, so needs a bit of an update. But also because it’s still not quite able to quiet its shiny-floored BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing. But with so many changes, rumours and updates, it’s hard to keep track. So here’s a simple ‘who’s in, who’s out and who’s rumoured’ guide to all things X…
After eight years of dishing out his Dermot hugs, Dermot O’Leary has waved goodbye to the good ship X Factor. Show insiders tell us it was Dermot’s decision to leave, although the exact details of what led to his departure have yet to be revealed. He may have been unhappy with the changes happening to the format this year – it was said he was keen to know whether his role was majorly affected – or he may have just decided he’d had enough of kickstarting everyone else’s Saturday nights. To the next host (which turned out to be hosts plural) O’Leary tweeted: “You’re about to be the conductor on the most brilliant, runaway train in showbiz. Good luck you’ll love it.”
In Dermot’s place come two familiar faces: Olly Murs and Caroline Flack. It’s the first time a double act has fronted the main show, although the duo did hold the fort on Xtra Factor in 2011 and 2012. Olly of course rose to fame on X Factor, becoming 2009 runner-up under Simon Cowell’s mentorship. He has also appeared as a guest judge, alongside Gary Barlow at Judges’ Houses in 2013. While Flack appeared to have severed ties with X Factor by competing in (and eventually winning) Strictly Come Dancing last year, Cowell has said how “delighted” he is to have the pair running proceedings this time around.
See them in action here:
The spin-off host
After just one series with the show DJ Sarah-Jane Crawford has revealed she will not return this year. While she says it’s due to other projects coming up this summer, Crawford also said her exit came as a result of the “changes” happening this series, suggesting an overhaul on ITV2, too.
Show insiders say it’s too early to be talking replacements. But Crawford herself initially said she’d like to have co-hosted it with former contestant (and now Big Brother host) Rylan Clark, so his name may well be in the mix. Or Cowell could look to other X Factor alumni; specifically One Direction. Louis Tomlinson has certainly shown his interest in the show, becoming a regular face during live show rehearsals. It’s understood he’d like to follow in the footsteps of his label owning boss Cowell, so this could be the ideal first step.
Or, if Cowell is looking for another willing former contestant, Jake Quickenden has thrown his hat in the ring. Although it never seemed like Jake’s quick dash into last year’s I’m A Celeb impressed the music mogul all that much.
The judging panel
So far it seems pretty concrete that Simon Cowell will himself return, and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini shows no signs of leaving, having rejoined the panel last year, after exiting back in 2010 (the drama of her exit from the US panel in 2011 behind her).
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but it seems Mel B and Louis Walsh’s seats may well be up for grabs. It’s always taken with a pinch of salt when Mr Walsh says he’s leaving, but it seems this year he may actually be off. Show insiders tell us it’s 95 per cent certain that last year (his eleventh series) was his last, although Cowell tweeted that the “door remains open”. There are rumours Walsh will launch Ireland’s Got Talent for Cowell, but there’s been no confirmation on that yet. I personally hope he returns for Judges’ Houses, the same way Tulisa did last year, just as long as that doesn’t mean Sinitta has to step to one side, eh? And, by the way, I think she would make a brilliant addition for the panel: 1. because of her outfits and 2. because she’d definitely know how to wind her mate Simon up.
Mel B hasn’t been quite so frank about whether she’s leaving or not, but rumours suggest her exit is one of the simplest ways for Cowell to give the show an overhaul. Although given her ability to divide viewers with her frank comments to contestants – including telling one to simply get off the stage – perhaps she’s worth keeping around? The former Spice Girl continues to judge on America’s Got Talent – Cowell’s other franchise – so she’s clearly rated by the boss.
Rita Ora made it onto the long list of names being discussed, but that idea’s been vetoed. It’s thought having her come straight from The Voice would make the shows feel too samey. Radio DJ Nick Grimshaw is also in the mix, although show insiders say that may not be pursued either. Other rumours range from the outrageous (Nigel Farage, anyone?) to Zayn Malik after his recent departure from One Direction. I’m keeping my eye on the Australian X Factor panel (where Mel B started her X Factor judging career), as Cowell has previous for looking within his own shows for new talent. The show has just had three departures, so perhaps LMFAO’s Redfoo is one his way to the UK panel, or maybe even Ronan Keating? Or, with the cancellation of American Idol, could Jennifer Lopez bring some glamour to the line-up?
Show insiders stress that it’s still too early to comment on who will or won’t be on the judging panel. But time is ticking on. Auditions with the judges usually kick off around June/July…
The X Factor faces disruption to its live shows due to ITV’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup. Simon Cowell tells me that some will become “bumper Sunday” editions for about a month. Which means we’ll actually be able to go out on a Saturday night. Hurrah!