TV bosses have finally confirmed that Sharon Osbourne will return to The X Factor judging panel to replace Tulisa Contostavlos.

She will join Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzinger – who have all signed up – on The X Factor when it comes to back to ITV later this year.

Sharon, last on the show as a judge six years ago, had been widely expected to return after it emerged she had been in negotiation with programme chiefs. She said she ‘couldn’t be happier’ about her comeback.

The line-up announcement means X Factor boss Simon Cowell will be absent for a third year. His departure coincided with a ratings tumble for the show which was last year regularly beaten by BBC One rival Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday nights.

Sharon is reported to have been offered more than £1 million for her return to the panel. Viewers last year saw her briefly make an appearance on The X Factor at the judges’ houses stage of the contest.

Auditions for the next series begin early next month so the panellists had to be in place by then.

Sharon said: “I couldn’t be happier about coming back for the 10th anniversary of X Factor. I can’t wait to give Gary Barlow a big hug, sit next to the gorgeous Nicole, and of course throw water on dear Louis. Yay!”

Simon said: “Three words I never thought I’d say – welcome back Sharon.”

Tulisa announced on Twitter this week that she was not coming back to the programme.