Gary Barlow has confirmed he is leaving The X Factor judging panel at the end of the current series, following a comment on Saturday night’s first live show.

The Take That singer made the reference to his departure after trio Rough Copy – who he is mentoring – rounded off the main show.

Having won rave reviews for their performance of Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight on the 80s-themed night, Gary told them: “I have been here for three years and I’m so glad for my last year on the show I get to mentor you guys.

“You are amazing, you are sensational, I love your courage, your charisma. For me, it’s everything I want in a group.”

Gary’s pronouncement came following weeks of speculation that he would not be back next year.

Dermot O’Leary hinted at a possible departure in August when he discussed how the show might change in 2014.

“If Simon Cowell comes back the dynamic would be very different,” he said. “Gary wouldn’t be there – he’ll be leaving at the end of this year.”

He added: “Simon is a great judge so we’d welcome him back, but Gary’s been such a great head judge as well.”

Saturday’s show also saw the other 11 X Factor finalists take to the live stage for the first time – with Shelley Smith becoming the first act to face Sunday’s sing-off after losing out in the new ‘flash vote’.

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