'X Factor' U.K. Reviewing Panel of Judges Amid Simon Cowell Return

Simon Cowell X-Factor Horizontal - H 2014
AP Images

Simon Cowell X-Factor Horizontal - H 2014

Gary Barlow has already announced his departure, and former Pussycat Dolls member Nicole Scherzinger is also expected to leave, while Cheryl Cole may return to the ITV show.

The U.K. version of Simon Cowell's X Factor is reviewing the panel of judges for its upcoming 11th season, which is set to air on ITV later this year, with Nicole Scherzinger the latest star rumored to depart.

Cowell has announced his on-air return to the show this year after the cancellation of the U.S. version of the music competition.

Without Cowell as a judge, the ITV show has typically brought in a smaller audience than BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing, whose U.S. version is Dancing With the Stars.

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The last time Cowell had an on-air role on the ITV version, the final episode drew 17.2 million viewers. The most recent season finale reached only 9.11 million.

The Guardian and others late in the week reported that former Pussycat Dolls star Scherzinger, who has been on the judging panel since 2012, is expected to leave the X Factor U.K. and focus on her musical career.

A spokesman for the show told THR that no decisions on judges have been made beyond Cowell's return.

However, two other judges, former Take That star Gary Barlow and music manager Louis Walsh, have previously said that they would be leaving after the 10th season, which ended late last year. Walsh has since, however, said that he was excited about Cowell's return, hinting he could be up for a continued role.

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Former X Factor U.K. judge Cheryl Cole has been mentioned by British media as possibly returning to the show. The Girls Aloud star was a judge on the U.K. show through 2010 before briefly serving as a judge on the U.S. version.

"It's about whether she wants to do it and deal with it again," Cowell recently said when asked about a possible Cole return. Cole herself on Thursday tweeted an old picture of herself and Cowell on the U.K. show, which some fans took as a sign that she was interested in a return.

Robbie Williams and former X Factor U.K. finalist Olly Murs are also among the various names that U.K. media have mentioned as possible contenders.

Cowell last week said that he was "absolutely thrilled" to return to the X Factor U.K. in an on-air role, something that ITV executives have long hoped for. Late in 2013, ITV renewed X Factor and Cowell's Britain's Got Talent, on which he has remained a judge, for three more years. The new deal included a clause saying Cowell may appear on both shows.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai