Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw’s place as the third judge on X Factor is being treated pretty much as fact at this stage and the show insiders I talked to recently were doing nothing to dispel that. There was no official confirmation of course, but the nods and winks were in all the right places.
But who might the fourth and final panel member be? Co-host Caroline Flack, currently filming another ITV reality show Love Island (launches Sunday 9pm on ITV2), told me “I think it might be a boy”. But, clearly sensing my interest in this news, laughed: “That’s like me predicting someone’s birth by the way. That’s me thinking it might be a boy, that’s not inside knowledge or anything.
“I just don’t know. I’ve heard the same rumours as everyone else.”
It may not be based on inside knowledge, but if Flack’s instinct is correct and there are indeed set to be three male judges (including Simon Cowell) and one female (Cheryl Fernandez-Versini) it certainly wouldn’t be a first for talent shows.
Paula Abdul has been the only female judge on American Idol, Amanda Holden too was the only woman on the Britain’s Got Talent panel in series past. Over on Strictly Come Dancing, Darcey Bussell sits alongside three men, while The Voice pitched Rita Ora against a trio of male coaches. In a year when X Factor is shaking up everything from the presenters to the audition format, perhaps it’s worth following that formula.
Of course, while it now seems pretty certain there will be two new faces on the panel, it’s yet to be officially confirmed that Mel B and Louis Walsh aren’t returning, with the X Factor bosses themselves staying tight-lipped.
Show insiders seem to be torn over the idea of a third male judge. While some said they thought it would make for an interesting panel with Cheryl as the only female, others pondered whether the show would miss out on some of the usual consequences of having two women; the ‘fash-offs’ between outfits and the usual suggestion of cattiness backstage.
Auditions with the judges are expected to kick off next month, so it won’t be long until we find out if Flack’s predictions turn out to be correct.
X Factor returns to ITV later this year