Ex-EastEnder Michelle Collins is set to star as a fiesty judge in a Simon Cowell-inspired TV drama based on The X Factor.

Michelle – evil Cindy Beale in Albert Square – will play acid-tongued Karina Faith in ITV1’s Rock Rivals, according to The Sun.

Producers say they have based Michelle’s character on X Factor judge Sharon Osbourne with ‘a twist of Louis Walsh’.

Rock Rivals revolves around the turbulent relationship between two married judges on a talent show.

The couple, Karina and Mal, fall out and launch rival bands after he admits to having an affair with his assistant.

It’s likely to turn into a battle of the soaps as Mal will be played by former Coronation Street star Sean Gallagher – Paul Connor in the ITV1 soap.

Michelle, 44, apparently beat off fellow former EastEnder Jessie Wallace, 35, and Footballers’ Wives star Zoe Lucker, 33, to land the role.

An insider said: “We’ve been hunting around for just the right person for this role and it’s been hard. But Michelle has everything we were looking for – she’s a great actress and can be tough as old boots.

“She won’t mince her words – just like the real X Factor bunch.”

Rock Rivals is being produced by Shed Productions – makers of Bad Girls and Footballers’ Wives – and begins in January 2008.

X Factor guru Simon is on board as a creative consultant through his production company Syco TV.

The news follows reports at the weekend that Michelle’s EastEnders’ character Cindy is set to return to Walford – as a ghost.