Robbie Williams, Ayda Field, Louis Tomlinson: All change for X Factor 2018

Robbie Williams, Ayda Field, Louis Tomlinson: All change for X Factor 2018
Robbie Williams, Ayda Field, Louis Tomlinson: All change for X Factor 2018
Image copyright ITV
Image caption Left-right: Robbie Williams, Ayda Field, Dermot O'Leary, Louis Tomlinson and Simon Cowell

This weekend, hopefuls will sing their hearts out once more in an attempt to win a record deal and perhaps even fame, fortune and everlasting glory.

But in this year's X Factor, there will be a brand-new judging panel, and a few other surprises too.

Veteran judge and show creator Simon Cowell is the only survivor from last year's panel - he will be joined by Louis Tomlinson, Robbie Williams and Robbie's wife Ayda Field.

As the 15th series kicks off on Saturday, here's what you can expect from the revamped show.

Simon: Last year's show was "a bit boring"

Image copyright PA

The X Factor and Simon Cowell come as a package, so when Simon threw shade at last year's series earlier this week it came as a bit of a surprise.

He admitted the show was "struggling" last year, especially in the "overs" category, which he described as "a bit boring".

Cowell says it's all change this year, though, with the category being full of "really strong" singers.

At Friday's news conference, he also shared some information about how the new panel would approach their task.

"The whole idea this year was to make this an optimistic panel," he said. "When we finally got the OK that this [line-up] was going to happen, I've never felt so excited."

No reservations over Ayda

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Image caption Will the husband and wife duo revive the X Factor?

When Ayda's appointment was revealed in July, some fans were worried about the US TV actress's lack of experience in the music industry.

But Simon said: "Ayda has been a revelation. I mean, seriously, she's been brilliant."

He then went on to explain that you don't necessarily need to be an artist or a music manager to be on the show. "You have to have taste, good instincts, you have got to like people," he said.

"Ayda has seen the music business from a different point of view so she brings a different perspective to the panel. I think she's amazing."

Ayda believes her years with former Take That star Robbie are enough experience to be on the show.

"I know that I've helped Rob for 12 years now, I've had to pick him up off the ground and lift him up," she said. "I am always incredibly straightforward, I say it with compassion but I stick to my word and carry it through."

Robbie's new chapter

He's won a record 18 Brit Awards and has had seven solo UK number ones as well as seven more with Take That. So there are no quibbles about Robbie's qualifications.

But he hasn't been in the top 10 for five years. Robbie says he hopes The X Factor will boost his future TV prospects.

"Selfishly, for me, I've had the most fun that I've ever had in the entertainment industry," he told This Morning on Friday.

"It would be incredible to open a new chapter and have this be the start of it. I'm just having a whale of a time. Who knew that I would be a TV personality? I like it though!"

Out with the old Louis...

Image copyright ITV
Image caption Every X Factor needs a Louis...

...and in with the new.

There will be a Louis on this year's judging panel - but it won't be Louis Walsh.

Instead, in an X Factor first, a former contestant is stepping up to the role - One Direction's Louis Tomlinson.

He said the first day on the job was "as surreal for me as the contestants auditioning".

He added: "I think it also helps having me there. I don't think they have ever had anyone on the panel who has auditioned for the show."

The new Louis knows better than anyone what life can be like for contestants who hit the big time. "I feel a duty of care, I want to help people out," he said.

It also remains to be seen who will be joining Louis at judges' houses... could a mini One Direction reunion be on the cards?

What about ratings?

Image copyright Getty Images

Simon Cowell and his ITV bosses will be hoping this series revives the show's fortunes after last year's X Factor suffered the worst ratings in its history.

The final brought in 5.8 million viewers, compared with the 13 million who tuned in to the final of BBC rival Strictly Come Dancing a couple of weeks later.

ITV was forced to defend the show's performance, issuing a statement saying: "The show performs well for younger audiences and it is an important part of ITV's autumn schedule."

Will the new series do enough to bring back some of those viewers?

The X Factor returns to ITV on Saturday, September 1.

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