Yes, as the show enters its 16th year, things are going to look a little bit different, with the main series taking a break and two new formats coming in to take it’s place, featuring celebrity contestants and former champions.
Is The X Factor coming back this year? What is the new format?
It was once the biggest show on television, dominating the Saturday night schedules and producing a string of internationally successful singers.
But in more recent years, The X Factor’s star has most definitely waned; having once had viewing figures of 17.7 million during the halcyon days of 2010, last year it limped to the stables with just 5.5 million left watching.
However, it won’t return as we know it. Simon Cowell is planning TWO versions of the show this year: one celebrity version (think Strictly Come Dancing but with singing) and one that invites back former contestants to compete.
“The time feels right, and it will be a huge change,” Cowell told The Sun. “We haven’t exactly confirmed the dates or the order of the shows, but essentially there are going to be two versions of X Factor running this year.
“I think it’s going to be huge, it’s the best I’ve felt about this show in years.”
How will the celebrity version of The X Factor work?
We’ve actually had a celebrity version of The X Factor before – the short-lived X Factor: Battle of the Stars, which aired in 2006, and while we don’t have much official info on the 2019 incarnation, it sounds like it could be pretty similar.
The week-long 2006 special, which was won by EastEnders’ Lucy Benjamin, featured some truly horrific performances, including this frankly haunting solo from Gillian McKeith.
Despite having fairly healthy ratings at the time (it pulled in an average of 6 million a night), Cowell was previously dismissive of the show, calling it “pointless” and saying he would never do it again.
He told The Sun at the time, “What we’re meant to be looking for is a new artist.
“The only validity for my doing these shows is that I’m doing my day job on a TV – which is trying to find artists for the label.
“So when I’m judging celebs, I’m not actually doing my job. I’m just being on a TV show.”
But Cowell has seemingly had a change of heart in more recent years, hinting that he had been thinking about resurrecting the show last year.
“Celebrity X Factor wasn’t one of my favourite shows, but for some reason I do actually want to do it again,” he told The Sun’s TV Magazine. “I’m hoping we’re going to do this soon. I’d like to mentor David Walliams!”
Which celebrities are competing?
As of yet, no celebrities have been announced, but as mentioned previously, it seems Cowell is really, really gunning for Britain’s Got Talent judge Walliams to take part – and has reportedly set aside £3 million to entice big names.
Williams himself joked that he would “love to kill the X Factor format forever” when asked about his inclusion in the line-up at the Bafta TV Awards.
“I’ve mentioned it to [Simon]. I cannot sing a note, so I’d fit in very well. It would be fun,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen but I would love to be on it. I’ve always loved The X Factor. I got to be on it last year with Robbie Williams at Judges’ Houses so I would love to be on that stage, doing a duet with Wagner.”
Former Doctor Who star and I’m a Celeb runner-up John Barrowman has put his name forward for a part on the show. “I’d love to do it,” he told the Metro. “It’s one of those things where if I’m asked I’d do it, like anything, I’d do it at the drop of a hat as long as I know I’m gonna have fun doing it.”
He also put himself forward for a judging role, adding, “I love being a judge because I love seeing people being challenged. ‘Being well bred in musical theatre and dance and singing and performance, I think I’d be a good judge.”
Amanda Holden and Gemma Collins have also been rumoured to take part; Holden previously stunned fans with her voice when she sang Tightrope from The Greatest Showman as an anniversary gift for her husband, and Collins is reportedly working with producer Naughty Boy on her own single.
Former TOWIE star Megan McKenna has also been thrown into the mix, with the reality star having since turned her attention to country music.
Keeping tight-lipped about whether she was involved, McKenna said on ITV’s Loose Women: “I’ve seen the rumours as well. I mean, I love that show.”
By approaching celebs who may have taken initial steps into entering the music business, Cowell is keen to show that this is not just a repeat of the tacky celeb karaoke that we saw on our screens around 13 years ago, wanting his celebrity contestants to go on to become bona fide singers.
“In the same way Pete Waterman made Kylie and Jason musical stars, and what I did with Robson and Jerome, I’d like to think through the process we’ll find someone who can sell records rather than just doing the show as a stunt,” he said.
Adding the format changes have given him a “buzz”, Cowell continued, “I’m excited again because my focus is who will be on the show.”
Cowell is so serious about his showbiz spin-off that he’s even willing to put his money where his mouth is, reportedly planning to offer the winner of the celeb version a record deal and a shot at landing the Christmas number 1 single.
“Simon knows that getting the right stars to enter is the key to its success, so to make that more appealing he’s decided to put a proper record deal with Syco on the table for the winner — with serious money behind it,” an insider told The Sun.
“It’s a proper competition and they want people who can really sing but who are big personalities too.”
How will the Champions version of The X Factor work?
As well as a celebrity edition, a second X Factor series is set to be launched this year, expected to be comprised of former winners and memorable contestants bidding to be named the ultimate champion.
The news comes after the success of a similar spin-off for Simon Cowell’s stateside show, which launched America’s Got Talent: The Champions earlier this year.
That saw winners from the Got Talent franchise across the world take to the stage to perform in front of the judges once more, before advancing to the live finals.
While Paul Potts, Attraction and Susan Boyle flew the flag for Great Britain in the contest, it was AGT series 13 winner, magician Shin Lim, who was crowned the ultimate champion.
Whether X Factor’s Champions version will consist of global contestants or a line-up exclusively from past series of the UK show remains to be seen, but if it’s the latter, the homegrown X Factor has certainly been responsible for producing some world class performers down the years – think Little Mix, One Direction, Leona Lewis, er, Jedward…
Whether the most successful stars will want to take part is another matter, of course.
Who will appear in a Champions version of The X Factor?
Among former contestants who have already laid their cards on the table, are 2012 winner James Arthur – who told Metro, “I actually spoke to Simon about it but unfortunately I just don’t have the time. Never say never, though,” – and 2014 runner-up Fleur East, who has ruled herself out, telling Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford on This Morning, “I don’t think I personally would because I did it the first time in 2005 as a group and then in 2014 and it went so well, it was so amazing I think the third time I’m pushing it.”
However, there is at least one act apparently keen to make an X Factor comeback, with East saying fellow 2014 finalist Stevi Ritchie would “love to appear”.
Elsewhere, Jedward have said that producers are keen to invite them back on the show for a second go. While the pair were the novelty joke act in 2009, they’ve miraculously managed to forge relatively successful careers thanks to their ironic popularity.
“I can tell everybody that they’re trying desperately to get me and John,” Edward said while appearing on ITV’s Loose Women. “They’ve been emailing us.”
“They definitely want us,” John agreed.
But the duo are not keen on returning, with John adding, “I don’t want to go back and rewind what we’ve already done – we’ve progressed, we’ve got our own songs. I don’t want to go back and do Britney Spears or Ghostbusters.”
Series seven X Factor star Wagner (no surname necessary) is hoping to make a comeback on the Champions audition, promising to “bring the fun.”
The 63-year-old said to The Sun, “I think X Factor could do with some more interesting acts, not serious people who sing like they are suffering or dying. People at home watch and go ‘That’s boring.’ I make people smile wherever I go.
“I’ll bring the fun. When I’m on stage I love it.”
Rap artist Honey G (real name Anna Gilford) has also thrown her baseball cap in the ring for a return.
“I tick all the boxes,” she told The Sun. “Give the people what they want and what the people want is Honey G.
“Nobody wants to see anyone sing a power ballad. My prediction is if they do that they’ll stick with the low ratings. I think I am their best shot at getting Christmas No1.”
When is The X Factor 2019 on TV?
ITV hasn’t yet announced air dates for the series and while The X Factor has traditionally begun in early September, with two new spin-offs coming scheduling is a little harder to predict. Watch this space for the latest news as we get it.
Who will be the X Factor judges in 2019?
Simon Cowell is reportedly trying to keep together last year’s panel of himself, Robbie Williams, Louis Tomlinson and Ayda Field. “I think and hope the panel will be the same,” he said.
However, it has since been rumoured that former X Factor judge Dannii Minogue is in talks to return to the show after departing the panel in 2010.
“X Factor bosses would love to have Dannii back on the panel — she was part of the show’s dream team in its heyday,” a source told The Sun. “Her chemistry with the other judges was electric and she loved the role. She has fond memories of the show as it gave her such a great platform, but she is really happy with her life now and isn’t sure she wants to rock the boat.
“It would also be very dependent on who she sat next to on the panel as rumours at the time said she didn’t get on well with Sharon Osbourne.
“Simon thinks it would be a real coup to have her and she is definitely someone he has mooted.”
Where is The X Factor filmed? And how can I get tickets?
In 2018, the live shows were filmed at LH2 Studios in Acton, London W3.
Although tickets for the 2019 series aren’t up for grabs yet, they will be available for FREE via ApplauseStore.com.
Usual host Dermot O’Leary hasn’t yet confirmed he’s returning for the 2019 show, and of course it’s possible the two X Factor shows could have different presenters.
O’Leary has fronted each series of the show since 2007, except for the 2015 series, which was presented by Caroline Flack and Olly Murs (who accidentally told a contestant they’d be leaving the show too early).
What happened to The Xtra Factor?
The ITV2 spin-off was axed in 2017, with no word of its return. But with so much up in the air for The X Factor right now, who knows?