Louis Walsh is quitting his role on The X Factor to focus on his work as a manager – and to write a book.
The programme’s longest-serving judge has appeared in every series of the ITV show, bar one, since it began in 2004 but will not feature when the show returns later this year.
“I’ve had a fantastic 13 years on The X Factor but the show needs a change and I’m ready to leave,” said Walsh, who will continue to judge Ireland’s Got Talent, which like the The X Factor is made by Thames and Syco. “I’m looking forward to another series of Ireland’s Got Talent, going back to my day job as a manager, writing my memoirs and seeing the world!”
Walsh’s retirement from the programme means that fellow judge and manager Sharon Osbourne will take on a new role going forward and will feature in The X Factor’s live episodes.
“Louis has been a huge part of The X Factor’s success since it launched and remains a good friend of the show. His contribution cannot be overstated. We would like to thank him for all he has given to the show over the years and look forward to continuing to work with him in the future,” said Thames managing director, Amelia Brown. “We are very excited Sharon is taking on a new role on the show and we can’t wait to see her as a judge on the live episodes. This is the start of a new era for The X Factor. I am really excited about all the ideas we have for the coming series including, of course, the new judging panel.”
Syco’s Simon Cowell will return to The X Factor for the new series with three new fellow judges set to be announced.
Last year's X Factor was won by Rak Su. The final peaked with 7 million viewers on ITV1 for a 28% share at 8.50pm - the highest peak audience for a live show in the series. The show averaged 5.2m viewers and a 22% share, with 1.1m/31% share of 16-34 year olds. A total of 4.8m votes were cast across the voting platforms, including the official app.