Rita Ora for X Factor? Let’s have some new talent not recycled reality stars

As rumours swirl that The Voice coach is back in the mix for a judging spot on The X Factor, isn’t it time new really meant new, asks Emma Daly

It’s all change on X Factor this year. Host Dermot O’Leary has gone. Louis Walsh might actually be on his way out this time and coverage of the Rugby World Cup on ITV is even going to see the show lose some of its Saturday night spots.


Yet, when it comes to bringing ‘new’ faces to the show, so far it’s all feeling, well, a bit familiar. 

Former X Factor contestant Olly Murs is rumoured to be in line for the presenting spot, alongside another potential returnee, Caroline Flack. Not only have the pair both previously hosted sister show The Xtra Factor, but Murs has also popped up as a guest judge beside Gary Barlow in 2013 and Flack is no stranger to talent shows herself, having dazzled her way to Strictly victory last year.

As Simon Cowell seeks to revamp the X Factor judging panel, it seems singer Rita Ora, who’s just finished a stint as a coach on The Voice, is in the frame again, having already appeared as a guest judge on the show and turned down the full time role once before.

“I saw Rita Ora on The Voice and thought she was very good,” Cowell told the Daily Star. “When it comes to asking her over [from the BBC to ITV], it’s fair game.”

It’s clearly far from a done deal, but Cowell’s got previous when it comes to looking to other reality shows for his judges, with Alesha Dixon leaving the sequins of the Strictly panel for a spot on Britain’s Got Talent and Mel B having appeared on X Factor in Australia and Got Talent in the US before lining up for The X Factor over here. When the former Spice Girl was sick, meanwhile, Tulisa came back (having already returned for Judges’ Houses) while Nicole “schermazeballs” Scherzinger swapped between the US X Factor and the British version, and Cheryl tried to do it Stateside in between judging stints over here. 

From one point of view it obviously makes sense to choose people who have experience. Ant and Dec haven’t picked up 14 NTAs in a row for no reason. But if panel changes need to be made (ie if Louis Walsh really does leave), why not go for someone wildly different? Give viewers something brand new to get excited about, rather than just the cheap, quick thrill of a comeback. The contestants all want to be the next Ed Sheeran, so tempt him on. Get Pharrell and his big hats involved. Taylor Swift and her army of fans would spin the show on its head. Simon Cowell has these people’s phone numbers, right?

Sure, there are unthinkable amounts of money plunged into these shows, which can make those behind them risk averse, but change is good, as they say, and one singing show morphing into another can’t be the way to go (we won’t know whether the judges are spinning on chairs or booting contestants off them). 

I may have to eat my hat if Cowell’s real ideas are far from what the rumours suggest, and I would do it gladly. A bit of unpredictability would be welcome – let’s put the X back into The X Factor… 


The X Factor returns to ITV later this year