Nicole Scherzinger has persuaded Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh to shake up The X Factor format.

The former Pussycat Doll, standing in as guest judge for Dannii Minogue, suggested the under-25s category should be increased up to 27-year-olds, because there are so many good singers in the over-25 group, putting some of them in the younger section could increase their chances of survival.

An X Factor spokesperson said: “At Nicole’s suggestion, and agreed by Simon and Louis, the boys’ and girls’ category age limit has been increased to anyone under 28, which the judges believe will strengthen the competition and talent.”

In another twist, the number of wannabes from each group going through to the judges’ houses stage has increased from six to eight.

Despite rumours to the contrary, the live X Factor shows will still kick off with 12 acts.

“Eight acts will now go through to each of the judges’ houses. There will still be 12 acts going through to the live shows,” the spokesperson added.