Simon, Cheryl, Louis and Dannii are back and raring to go as the nation’s wannabes set their sights set on pop stardom. After last year’s discovery of diva Alexandra Burke and chart-toppers JLS, The X Factor judges realise they’ve got a challenge on their hands…

“Alexandra had that something you just can’t describe. That sparkle, the performance, the personality,” says Cheryl Cole, 26, who mentored last year’s winner. “I look for someone with the full package as opposed to someone with just a good voice and nothing else about them.”

But this year’s hopefuls won’t just be facing the criticism of the judging panel. In a twist inspired by Britain’s Got Talent, the auditions will now be performed in a theatre in front of a public audience.

“It’s great for us because we get to see how an act can handle performing on stage to a crowd much earlier in the process,” says Cheryl. “It’s so much more exciting. And we the judges are also judged. If we don’t like an act but the audience do they certainly let us know about it!”

Faces to follow. Here are some acts to look out for in the audition weeks…

Scott James


Asperger’s sufferer Scott, 21, wows the judges with his rendition of You Raise Me Up. The shy singer is tipped as an early favourite and had Simon Cowell visibly moved.

Princess Sweetie


Larger than life Princess – aka Joyce Edwards – provides the show with a Susan Boyle moment. First impressions of the singer aren’t high, but the big-voiced diva shocks everybody.

Kandy Rain


Girl group Kandy Rain reckon they can give the likes of the Sugababes a run for their money with their pop and R‘n’B sound.

David the chicken


This wannabe decides to do his audition in full chicken outfit. Will such eggs-centricity get the judges clucking?

Behrouz


Dressed in tight leather pants, Behrouz from London has another gimmick to wow the judges – leaping into the air as he sings. But can he reach the right heights with his performance?

*The X Factor returns to ITV1 on Saturday, August 22*