Cheryl’s out but Rita Ora’s still in for the new series of X Factor

When the music stops on this year’s game of musical chairs, it looks like Rita will still have a seat

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Rita Ora won’t quit ahead of this year’s X Factor, RadioTimes.com understands.

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As Cheryl Fernandez-Versini gives up on this year’s game of musical chairs, a pop industry source tells us Rita’s return is “likely”. Well, after Olly Murs and now Cheryl, a third person wheeling out the old ‘quitting to focus on their music’ might have been a bit much.

Rita’s place on the panel wasn’t confirmed until June last year, just before auditions kicked off. So it’s not set in stone. Indeed, I’m told hers – and anyone else’s – spot also depends on how the make up of the panel works as a whole. Chemistry, as ever, is the buzzword. If only they bottled it, eh Simon?

But sources close to the show suggest Ms Ora proved “very popular” last series. She’s the reigning champion judge and if anyone can hold their own alongside the much rumoured return of X Factor double act Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh it’s Rita and her random catchphrases. She can teach Louis to “mash it up”.

Or they’ll have a humdinger of a row. Which is probably what show bosses are hoping for.

There’s certainly a feeling that there won’t be any shocks on the panel. It doesn’t look like they’re suddenly going to airdrop Lady Gaga in. A mood of comebacks and familiarity is most definitely in the air. A Simon Cowell, Rita Ora, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh line-up is now very much what’s expected.

Rumours were rife that Rita could be tempted back to coaching on The Voice. But with the show on ITV from next year, panel poaching is highly unlikely given both shows are commissioned by the same people.

As for Rita’s own music, she’s currently caught up in a dispute with her label. But promoting her own tracks while being on a TV show that draws millions of eyeballs each week makes sense to us…

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The X Factor returns later this year on ITV