Cheryl Cole and Mel B stole the limelight at the first round of The X Factor auditions as the search for this year’s star got underway.
Former Girls Aloud star Cheryl is returning to the hit show after four years away and three years after being dropped from the judging panel of the American version of the singing competition.
It has been reported that head judge Simon Cowell is hoping for sparks between the singer and former Spice Girl Mel B, who has appeared as a guest judge previously.
Today, the pair were all smiles as they posed for pictures with fans on the red carpet of the Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester, where the first round of auditions are being held.
Both showed off their legs in miniskirts, with Cheryl dressed in white with metallic blue stiletto heels and her blonde hair down over her shoulders. She contrasted with Mel B, who wore black with a skirt featuring large studs and her long hair scraped back into a ponytail.
Simon and fourth judge Louis Walsh, who has been on the X Factor panel ever since the show started in 2004, were more casually dressed as they arrived at the cricket ground along with host Dermot O’Leary and Sarah-Jane Crawford, the new presenter of spin-off programme the Xtra Factor.
Mel B, who has also appeared on America’s Got Talent and Australian X Factor, has promised to bring some ‘honesty’ to the 11th series of the show.
The straight-talking star said she was ‘so excited’ to be coming back after appearing as a guest judge in 2012 and is reported to have signed a deal worth £1 million.
She said last week: ”I’ve always thought honesty is the best policy when being a judge and that’s what I’m going to bring more of this year – whether it’s spotting an incredible singer, giving someone a reality check or debating with Simon over who’s got it wrong. Now I can’t wait to get started and find some amazing talent.”
Simon said he was ”thrilled” by the appointment, adding: “She is feisty, opinionated and, I believe, will be a great mentor.”
The first round of X Factor auditions involve would-be contestants performing for just the four judges – with them only getting the chance to sing at the later arena auditions if they are successful.
Further preliminary auditions will also be held in London, Newcastle and Edinburgh.