ITV bosses finally confirm Sharon Osbourne's X Factor return following Tulisa's exit

 

TV bosses finally confirmed Sharon Osbourne will return to The X Factor judging panel to replace Tulisa Contostavlos.

She will join Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger - who have all signed up - on the ITV series when it comes to back to screens later this year.

Osbourne, last on the show as a judge six years ago, had been widely expected to return after it emerged she had been in negotiation with programme chiefs. She said she "couldn't be happier" about her comeback.

Today's line-up announcement means show boss Simon Cowell will be absent for a third year. His departure coincided with a ratings tumble for the show which was last year regularly beaten by BBC1 rival Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday nights.

Osbourne is reported to have been offered more than £1 million for her return to the panel. Viewers last year saw her briefly make an appearance on the show at the judges' houses stage of the contest.

Auditions for the next series begin early next month so the panellists had to be in place by then.

Osbourne has recently had marriage woes after her husband, rock star Ozzy Osbourne, returned to heavy drinking although the couple are now said to be back on track.

She said today: "I couldn't be happier about coming back for the 10th anniversary of X Factor.

"I can't wait to give Gary Barlow a big hug, sit next to the gorgeous Nicole, and of course throw water on dear Louis. Yay!"

Cowell said: "Three words I never thought I'd say - welcome back Sharon."

Contostavlos announced on Twitter yesterday that she was not coming back to the programme.

Outspoken Osbourne, who was a no-nonsense music industry manager like her father before joining the show, was on the original panel when the series launched in 2004.

She famously clashed with other panellists on-screen, particularly Dannii Minogue.

Dermot O'Leary will be back as the programme host once again.

Peter Fincham, ITV's director of television, said: "We're delighted to confirm our fantastic panel, who will bring an incredible combined wealth of experience to our 10th series of The X Factor.

"I know I speak for all of us when I say we're looking forward to bringing viewers a brilliant series this autumn."

And Richard Holloway, the managing director of programme-maker Thames, said: "Sharon's countless years in the music industry along with her passion and her previous time on the show make her the perfect addition to the judging panel."

In change to the audition process this year, the hopeful acts will face the judges close-up in an intimate audition room.

If they get though that stage they will then have to perform once again in an arena to prove they can also impress an audience before they can go through to the next stage.

There had been speculation that Barlow was tired of the show after two series, but he said his interest had been reignited after last year's triumph by James Arthur, who was mentored by Scherzinger.

Barlow said: "It's great to be back for the 10-year anniversary of X Factor and my third year with the show. This year is looking to be our best yet.

"To have a winner like James Arthur last year was a big game changer; I really hope that his authenticity and credibility will attract acts of a similar talent this series and I'm very excited about that."

Scherzinger said: "I had so much fun and such a great experience on the show last year - it far exceeded all my expectations.

"I always give 110% to all I do and I put everything else on hold to focus on X Factor and supporting my Scherzy boys.

"This year, now that I've worked out doing my new music and the show together, I am so excited to get back to the UK, my second home, and get stuck into X Factor 2013."

Walsh - who has been with the show since its launch - said: "I'm back with a vengeance.

"Ten years on and I'm just as thrilled to be involved in the best show on TV and even more delighted to be re-united with original judge Sharon Osbourne."

The auditions in front of judges begin on 4 June in Glasgow, and the arena stage of the process will begin in July.

PA

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