X Factor 'over as we know it' as Simon Cowell plots dramatic celebrity revamp

Simon Cowell is in talks with ITV about completely overhauling X Factor – and replacing it with a celebrity version.

The music mogul wants to inject “new energy” into the long-running series by casting stars such as soap actors, newsreaders and comedians.

One source said: “Imagine Strictly but with singers. That’s the plan being talked about at present. There is no doubt the X Factor format needs freshening up – this is it.”

He hopes to implement the changes for the upcoming series later this year – meaning the end of auditions for the public as we know it.

Music mogul Simon Cowell is in talks to completely overhau X Factor
Dalton Harris scored a hit single after winning the show, but ratings have been plummeting
(Image: Dymond/Thames/Syco/REX/Shutterstock)

A source close to the judge said: “Bradley Walsh was the biggest selling artist of 2016. They could find a similar type of celebrity not known for their musical skills – and make them even more of a star.”

Within the series, there will also be a separate X Factor champions segment – featuring stars from X Factor shows around the world.

Despite X Factor’s falling ratings, ITV boss Kevin Lygo said last week he had no plans to axe the show, preferring to try and “make it leap again”.

He added: “That will be great if we could find that thing for X Factor.”

The judging line-up underwent a revamp in 2018
(Image: PA)

The 15th series of the show was won by Dalton Harris, whose victory was watched by a peak audience of 7.5 million viewers, up from 500,000 the previous year, according to ITV.

Lygo said: “The audition shows do incredibly well, eight million (viewers) or something and then it does tail off a bit during the lives”.

He praised the show’s head judge, Cowell, who he said “just generates this attention and heat in a good way. And I thought it was great to try Robbie (Williams) and you couldn’t, on paper, think of a bigger, better judge for a show like X Factor. So it’s not as if the producers and
Simon aren’t trying everything to keep it refreshed and so forth”.

Another source close to Cowell insisted there are still plans to return to the original format in 2020.

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