Will Simon Cowell kill The X Factor
21:52 GMT, 6 September 2012
For nine years it has been the country’s most popular TV show and the centrepiece of ITV’s entertainment schedule.
But as ratings plummet worryingly for a second year, Simon Cowell and his close associates are starting to consider the unthinkable: Is it time to rest The X Factor
ITV’s existing contract with Cowell’s company Syco ends at the end of 2013 so there’s one more year left to screen the show, along with Britain’s Got Talent.
Ready to judge: Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger, Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh are judging the ninth season of the X Factor
X Factor will then have finished its tenth series — quite a feat on modern television — providing an opportune time for the show to take a break while Cowell and his team consider its future.
Industry experts now believe it will be nearly impossible for X Factor to reach the ratings peaks of 2010, when Cheryl Cole mania was at its height and Cowell remained on the panel.
‘The last thing Simon wants is for X Factor to wither away,’ my source says.
‘It’s still early days in terms of renegotiating the deal with ITV, but he’s actively considering whether the best option for The X Factor will be for it to take a lengthy break.
'Ten years is a long time for any show, especially one which is subject to so much scrutiny.’
Original lineup: The first X Factor judges Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh
There aren’t the same doubts around Britain’s Got Talent, which will have finished its seventh season next year and is expected to continue.
The insider adds: ‘Britain’s Got Talent is on TV for a shorter time and hasn’t been around as long. Plus, Simon loves being on that panel. Regardless of what happens with X Factor, BGT’s likely to continue into 2014.’
However, despite a drop of three million viewers, ITV’s director of television Peter Fincham is desperate to retain The X Factor because the channel has no other entertainment show close to matching its ratings powers.
After strained relations with Cowell earlier this year, when the pair clashed over whether to sack Gary Barlow from the show, ITV is on a charm offensive.
‘ITV will do everything it can to keep The X Factor on the air, even if the ratings continue to fall this year,’ another source says. ‘It’s still their blockbuster show.’
I’m told ITV plan to coax Cowell back to judge on the show full-time in a bid to improve ratings. If U.S. X Factor continues, that could mean moving the UK’s show broadcasting slot to earlier in the year.
Gwyneth's start quality
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow has agreed to provide some star power to Jamie Oliver’s new Channel 4 teatime series.
The wife of Coldplay singer Chris Martin has long been a fan of Jamie.
My C4 source says: ‘We’re very excited about Jamie’s new project and being able to secure a name as big as Gwyneth. It’s a real coup because she can pick and choose which shows she appears on.’
In 2010, Jamie was interviewed for Gwyneth’s GOOP newsletter.
At the time, she wrote: ‘Sigh. Jamie Oliver. I love Jamie Oliver. I love his food, I love his books, I love his app, I love the mission he is on.'
Looking for the next Hit
New show: Laura Whitmore presents The Hit in Ireland
TV executives are searching for a new show to replace The X Factor. The latest possibility is a Warner Brothers format called The Hit, which sees fledgeling songwriters attempt to sell their songs to established pop stars and musicians.
Rising ITV star Laura Whitmore (pictured), who hosts I’m A Celebrity . . . on ITV2, will present a version of the series for RTE in Ireland, which will also feature former Westlife star Brian McFadden, before moving on to a possible UK edition.
‘There’s a feeling this could be the next big talent show after The Voice failed to fire,’ a TV insider says.
‘Executives in London are watching how the Irish show performs.’
She became a household name playing Tracey in the BBC comedy Birds Of A Feather. But now Linda Robson, 54, has won a permanent role on the panel of ITV’s Loose Women following the departure of comedian Jenny Eclair.
An ITV insider says: ‘She’s always been popular when she’s stood in before, so it was a no-brainer to hire her.’