Simon Cowell dumps ex-girlfriend Sinitta off X Factor

Simon Cowell dumps ex-girlfriend Sinitta off X Factor

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UPDATED:

08:39 GMT, 24 August 2012

For the past eight series, Simon Cowell’s ex-girlfriend, Eighties popstar Sinitta, has been a quirky fixture on The X Factor.

But she won’t be seen on this year’s show after a bizarre row over a confidentiality agreement Cowell insisted she sign.

Sinitta always appeared alongside Cowell at the judges’ houses stage of the competition that determines which singers make it through to the live performance episodes. Last year, she took on the same role for Louis Walsh.

Still close: Eighties popstar Sinitta refused to sign Simon Cowell's gagging order

Still close: Eighties popstar Sinitta refused to sign Simon Cowell's gagging order

But I’m told Sharon Osbourne, herself a former X Factor judge, will work alongside Louis this year instead.

Sinitta’s axing came when she refused to sign a hefty, legally-binding confidentiality agreement banning her from publicly discussing any details of The X Factor process.

My show source reveals: ‘Sinitta is extremely disappointed because she felt she would always be a central part of the show after so many years.

However, she wasn’t prepared to sign away her rights to speak to anyone about the show — which is what she was expected to do.

‘The producers know Sinitta will always tell it like it is and with all the criticism of the show at the moment, regarding the manipulation of contestants, they didn’t want to take any chances. But it feels like extreme paranoia.

‘Sinitta has been a defender of Cowell publicly for years, even when he sacked Cheryl Cole. What does the show have to hide

‘Even though she remains close friends with Simon, she’s one of the few people who is prepared to tell him where to go. That’s exactly what she did.’

There’s also tension between Sinitta and Simon’s friend Julia Carta, who I revealed will become X Factor’s head make-up artist this year. I hear they clashed furiously during a recent holiday on Cowell’s yacht.

Guiding hand: Sinitta has acted as a mentor for contestants on previous shows

Guiding hand: Sinitta has acted as a mentor for contestants on previous shows

The source adds: ‘There’s likely to be even more drama between them backstage because Sinitta is unlikely to stay away for long.’

An X Factor spokesman said: ‘There were never any plans for Sinitta to be a mentor this year and she was not approached.’

Perhaps one reason behind The X Factor’s dramatic ratings slump last weekend was the increasing commercial references made during the show.

Insiders are concerned by the prominent mentions of brands, which some viewers mistook for product placement.

In the first episode there were references to Nando’s and Asda.
My insider warns: ‘If we continue with these sorts of plugs, viewers will start to think it’s advertising. There was already quite a backlash on Twitter.’

Midwife delays delivery of Downton in the U.S.

I’m writing from the U.S., where TV industry figures are predicting Call The Midwife fever to hit next month, despite fears the series is too gritty for Americans.

Focus of attention: Actress Jessica Raine who stars as Jenny in the BBC Television show Call The Midwife

Focus of attention: Actress Jessica Raine who stars as Jenny in the BBC Television show Call The Midwife

Broadcaster PBS has announced the BBC drama sensation will premiere on September 30, importantly in the time slot that made Downton Abbey an unlikely Stateside phenomenon.

In fact, PBS is so confident Midwife will become a major ratings success that it has pushed back screening the third series of Downton here until January — even though the hit ITV series is set for glory at the Emmy Awards on September 23.

Most attention has focused on Jessica Raine. My Hollywood source says: ‘She’s made it clear she sees movies as her future, so there are a lot of film-makers watching very closely to see how the series goes down.

‘PBS wanted to go with Call The Midwife in autumn when most people tune into new TV series in the U.S.’

While many of her colleagues are looking to star in films, Sophie McShera — ditzy Downton scullery maid Daisy — is establishing herself in TV comedy.

The 26-year-old tells me she’s embracing her role in new ITV1 comedy The Job Lot because of the contrast to the period drama.

‘I even got to wear skanky make-up, which was exciting,’ she giggles. ‘The show’s about a Jobcentre and my character is a bit of a scally and a chancer. She finds every excuse not to get a job. For a little bit I’m even in a wheelchair I don’t need to be in!’

A pilot has been made and the series is likely to be on our screens next year.

Even Rihanna’s star power could not salvage her first TV project. The long-hyped fashion reality series Styled To Rock on Sky Living — she is executive producer — tanked in the ratings.

Fashion fail: Rihanna's new show has slumped in the ratings

Fashion fail: Rihanna's new show has slumped in the ratings

Despite Rihanna tweeting about it to her 24 million followers, only 95,000 tuned in — that’s just 0.4 per cent of people watching TV at the time. Designer Henry Holland and Girls Aloud star Nicola Roberts feature in the series.

When ITV launched its two-part festive charity special Text Santa last Christmas, it was hoped it would become a regular event like the BBC’s Children In Need and Comic Relief.

Now that could happen as the shows, which encouraged viewers to donate to charitable causes via text message, are back for a second year.

Text Santa — hosted by Ant and Dec, Phillip Schofield, Holly Willoughby and Christine Bleakley — raised over 4 million.

A number of top ITV presenters are currently being approached to feature this year.

Dramatic changes are being plotted to salvage The Voice from its dire ratings next year, but both presenters — Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates – are expected to return.

My show insider says: ‘There’s such upheaval we need the presenting line-up to stay stable.’ But the overhaul is expected to see Reggie getting a more prominent role.

‘He’s going to be much more of Holly’s equal,’ the source adds. ‘Keeping him backstage didn’t work.’ The hunt for a replacement for Jessie J continues.