Hit play on your copy of Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust and that’s about where we’re at with this year’s X Factor. Blink and you missed last year’s line-up of both judges and presenters, Rita Ora being the latest to skip off into the X Factor-less sunset.
I don’t know about you, but I kind of feel like we missed the memo about the call in vote. Add 01 for Cheryl, 02 for Rita…
Perhaps they all stood around a pool being told they hadn’t made it through to this year’s judges’ panel?
So, what’s happened so far? As a new 2016 panel announcement looms, here’s how the X Factor exits have played out so far…
The Radio 1 DJ was the first to leave, his decision made at Christmas. Of them all his has seemed the most direct, to the point and one we can get on board with: he basically would rather sit at home watching with a takeaway curry.
“This is not a diss to the show – this is not me storming out of X Factor going ‘Screw you Cheryl!’ – it’s a great show and I loved it,” Grimshaw said. “But it’s definitely a once in a lifetime style thing.”
He’d had his fair share of stick for sitting in what had, until then, pretty much always been Louis Walsh’s seat and was juggling his early morning radio shows with full days of auditions. It follows you’d quickly get bored of that.
One half of the presenting duo came next in the form of former contestant, former guest judge, former Xtra Factor presenter (it really goes on this) Olly Murs. He got in there first with the whole wanting to 100% focus on my music thing. A lot of that follows.
“This was an incredibly hard decision to make and one I didn’t take lightly as I’ve really enjoyed co-hosting the X Factor with Caroline Flack,” said Murs.
“It’s been one big adventure and I loved every minute of it. But my heart belongs to music and I want to concentrate 100 per cent on making my next album and getting back to performing.”
It seemed strange to come without Ms Flack, but that followed next…
Yep, as Murs’ exit was confirmed, so came Flack’s.
“I have had a brilliant time working on The X Factor over the last few years, and hosting the main show was just fantastic, I made some amazing friends. I’m looking forward to carrying on working with the team over at ITV,” Flack said in a statement.
Her exit had already been hinted at thanks to the changes on this year’s Love Island, which she also hosts on ITV2. The show, which she flew back and forth for last year, revealed it would go live as and when it felt the need, rather than a dedicated day like last year. It’s one thing juggling two shows, it’s another having to drop everything and zip on a plane to Mallorca because someone’s ditched someone in the steamy villa.
Sun, sea and sand over singing for your life? Makes sense to us.
Then came the curveball – Cheryl. Her and Simon Cowell have, for the last few years at least, been the ‘duo’ and, while they’re pals and he would have understood, it seems unlikely to be an exit Mr Cowell would have been altogether thrilled with. She’s been a big part of the show’s success after all.
Cheryl was the second to use the music thing.
“I have had such an amazing experience being a judge on The X Factor. I have learnt so much and enjoyed nurturing talent but I’ve missed making music and am excited to be recording again,” she said in a statement. “I want to thank everybody I have worked with along the way, especially Simon who I love to bits. I hope the show continues to produce stars and I wish them all the best.”
Sources told us she was jumped rather than pushed, which seems to support the now much-expected return of Louis Walsh. Since the Girls Aloud days (Walsh then manager) there’s been a tempestuous relationship between the pair. Walsh was recently quoted as saying he thought Cheryl had “lost a bit of energy”. Yikes.
Now it’s been confirmed that Rita Ora is off.
“I had a ball on @TheXFactor last year and will miss the team,” she wrote on Twitter, telling Simon Cowell she’d be round for dinner soon.
You can guess the reason: yep, the music. From what I understand it’s another that’s not likely to have been Cowell’s first choice: I get the impression he was keen for her to stick around. She earned her stripes last year, mentoring Louisa Johnson to victory – and he’d been the one who wanted to nab her from The Voice in the first place. Indeed, when Cheryl left, I was told Ms Ora’s return return was “likely”.
But, as ever, there’s a lot to consider – schedules, the mix on the panel, how to stop people so keenly switching over to the sparkly dancers…
So that leaves, well, Simon.
It feels like Celine Dion should be playing.
He’s the only one left from last year. Dermot O’Leary is confirmed to be back as host, but those three seats are yet to be officially filled.
It seems pretty certain that this onslaught of exits will be followed by a barrage of returns: Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and now Nicole Scherzinger are very much expected to come back and fill the empty seats.
After last year’s youthful changes, the mood this year is one of experience. On paper, it seems the logical next step, whether it brings the ratings, remains to be seen.
The X Factor returns later this year on ITV