X Factor final 2011: Simon Cowell has his say via satellite link

It”s final – Simon”s back on X Factor: Cowell has his say via satellite linkStar will make live appearance, either via satellite or Skype to comment on the performances

When Simon Cowell broke the news to ITV top brass that he would not be a regular judge on The X Factor this year, he assured them he would try to stay involved with the show.

And, just one day before the biggest final yet, at Wembley Arena, he is planning to make his presence felt.

While he cannot make the 24-hour round trip across the Atlantic because of his commitments on the U.S. version of The X Factor, Cowell has asked for a satellite link so he can watch the final live in his home in Los Angeles tomorrow.

Making his mark; Despite being on the opposite side of the world, Simon Cowell will be putting his stamp on the X Factor final

Making his mark; Despite being on the opposite side of the world, Simon Cowell will be putting his stamp on the X Factor final

And he is also planning a surprise live appearance, either via satellite or the internet video service Skype, to comment during or after the final.

The symbolic gesture is seen as a way for Cowell to acknowledge senior production staff on the show who have endured a torrid few months of controversies and an embarrassing three million drop in viewers.

My source in LA says: ‘Simon has stayed abreast of the show from America and has continued to have daily conference calls with his staff in the UK.

‘But he didn’t want to appear in the early weeks because he needed to concentrate on his day job. There was also no point in him overshadowing Gary Barlow and the other judges.’

Meanwhile, I am pleased to report Louis Walsh has pledged to return next year if he is wanted. The only original judge had been considering bowing out after this weekend.

But now Louis says: ‘I’d like to come back. I love the show 90  per cent of the time.’

X Factor Judges: Louis Walsh, Tulisa, Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow

X Factor Judges: Louis Walsh, Tulisa, Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow

Louis would be delighted to see Cowell return next year, although he concedes this is unlikely. He tells me: ‘I am going to be honest, without him there on the live shows it’s not the same. It’s like a big ship with no captain. He’s got a great instinct and he tweaks everything.’

Dermot O’Leary’s now familiar dance as he comes on stage has impressed executives. My source said: ‘The Dermot dance has made it very likely he’ll be asked back. He has made the show his own this year. He needed to step up with Simon gone — and he has.’

Marcus Collins is favourite to win, but industry insiders believe teen sensation Amelia Lily or girl group Little Mix would be better winners.

Previous solo male winners — Matt Cardle, Joe McElderry, Leon Jackson, Shayne Ward and Steve Brookstein — have struggled after X Factor.

New Countdown host Nick Hewer has assured the BBC he will not give up his role as Lord Sugar’s sidekick on The Apprentice, despite his demanding new role.

Hewer takes up his new job in January, replacing Jeff Stelling.

Assurances: Despite having a demanding new job, Nick Hewer pictured with Sir Alan Sugar and Karen Brady, has promised not to let it interfere with his role on The Apprentice

Assurances: Despite having a demanding new job, Nick Hewer pictured with Sir Alan Sugar and Karen Brady, has promised not to let it interfere with his role on The Apprentice

He has signed an exclusive deal with Channel 4 which is limited only to daytime, giving him the continued flexibility to appear on other channels in prime time.

‘We have no problem with him continuing on The Apprentice for as long as he wants to,’ a Channel 4 insider says.

Negotiations between caustic Jason Gardiner and ITV broke down over money. The Dancing On Ice judge has been replaced on the new series, which begins next month, by his friend Louie Spence, who found fame on Sky1’s Pineapple Dance Studios,

A source says: ‘Jason was not going to come back without a pay rise because he has found that the show takes a big personal toll. Last year he received death threats. ITV didn’t want to up his fee so the deal stalled.’

Caustic: Jason Gardiner is to be replaced in Dancing On Ice by his friend Louie Spence

Caustic: Jason Gardiner is to be replaced in Dancing On Ice by his friend Louie Spence