The X Factor judging line up, now official, comes as no great surprise but perhaps gives us some pointers for ITV plans further down the line.
All four of the judges – Simon, Louis, Sharon and Nicole – have been linked for some time and after Dermot O’Leary was brought back there was a sense of Cowell going for a ‘greatest hits’ judging panel from years gone by.
Less than two weeks ago on a call from Los Angeles, he told me: “I did listen to what I read from fans of the show and I could see a consensus building up and I think sometimes when you had things that work really well in the past people miss them. I kind of like the idea of reunions and I like the idea of what I call ‘The best of’ The X Factor.”
But just looking at the pictures of Cowell and co today posted alongside each other really brings into sharp focus the age of the panel.
The average age comes in at around 55, and that is with 37-year-old Nicole bringing it down a fair bit.
There is nothing wrong with them being experienced, ITV hope some older viewers who have switched to Strictly on BBC1 will come back.
But it also seems to leave an obvious gap in the market for ITV’s other recent acquisition, The Voice.
It strikes me that with Cowell going for his ‘tried and tested’ judges, ITV will surely ask The Voice to be younger. They will want their first series of the show to look fresh and almost the opposite of Cowell’s.
If they do keep will.i.am they will need to have at least one or two young panel members, and ideally young presenters, in order to have a marked difference from The X Factor.
It is a difficult balance to get right – they can’t make the line up too inexperienced, and last year’s X Factor panel showed youth does not equal ratings. But they do not want two very similar shows on screen either.
X Factor seems to have decided it can’t reinvent the reality wheel and is going for tried and tested, so when it comes to personnel it looks like The Voice will be ITV’s place to experiment.
Mark Jefferies is Showbiz Editor at the Mirror and co-edits their TV column Square Eyes