Louis Walsh might have been dropped as an X Factor judge twice before, but he's wangled his way back on to the judging panel for this year's spin-off series, X Factor Celebrity.
And the Irish star – who is basically part of the furniture when it comes to X Factor – has claimed Simon Cowell has finally realised that he needs right-hand-man Louis to keep the wheels turning.
Speaking ahead of the first X Factor Celebrity live show tonight, Louis said: “Simon has tried this before and it didn’t work, but this feels like a completely new show and he may not want to admit it but deep down he knew he needed me back.”
Poking fun at Simon’s changing face, Louis added: “He always realises in the end. I think he doesn’t like the fact I’ve had less plastic surgery than him, and me being on the panel is a constant reminder.”
Louis was initially replaced on the X Factor judging panel in 2015 by Nick Grimshaw after claiming he wanted to focus on “full-time music management.” Rumours quickly started circulating that he’d been sacked from the show, but Louis came out and said he’d quit.
The 67-year-old returned in 2016 before formally quitting again in 2018 – when he was replaced by Louis Tomlinson. On his decision to hang up his X Factor boots, Louis said: “The show needs a change and I’m ready to leave.”
But, with the new celebrity format announced earlier this year – it seemed Louis was high not just on Simon’s list of people to bring back, but his son Eric’s too.
“Even his son wanted me back,” Louis confessed. “Simon phoned me and said Eric told him, ‘Can you bring back Uncle Louis?'”
Although the new format – which has seen the likes of Megan McKenna, Brendan Cole and The Chase’s Jenny Ryan audition for the chance to win a recording contract – has proved popular on Twitter, it has been crushed in the ratings battle with Strictly Come Dancing.
In its opening week X Factor Celebrity peaked at 5.3 million with the numbers rising to 7 million over a week. But these figures dropped to 4.3 million during the second episode. While rival BBC show, Strictly, drew an audience of 10 million.