Louis Walsh has fuelled rumours that he might be making a return to The X Factor. The 63-year-old was sensationally axed after an 11 year run as judge and mentor as the show underwent a dramatic shake-up in a bid to boost ratings.
Walsh and former judge Mel B were replaced by Rita Ora and BBC Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw, while Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini returned to the panel. However, with ratings on the new series at their lowest, the music mogul is now believed to be bringing Walsh back as a "fifth judge".
Appearing on Loose Women the Irish manager revealed he is in talks with Simon Cowell. Describing The X Factor as "the best show in the world" he explained: "Simon said the door was open to me months ago. I talked to him last night. There is a possibility I might end up on the show, but I don't know for definite.
"I'd like to. I'm available. There is a possibility. It's up to Simon and I get on with him really well. I have worked with him for 12 years. We talk all the time. I think there is a chance," he added. "It's the best show in the world - it's the most talked about TV show - there are three or four acts on the show this year that are incredible."
In his role as a neutral fifth judge, Walsh would offer his unbiased opinion on the performances during the live shows. With Grimshaw being slammed for being "dull and uninspiring" it's thought that Walsh's humour and banter with Cowell will bring back audiences.
"I have fun with him [Simon], I wind him up, he winds me up. We are a great double act... I think Rita is amazing this year," he said. "They're all scared of him - I think he is scared of Cheryl. I'm going to bring Cheryl chocolates - lots of Cadbury's chocolates. I'd like to bring a bit of fun."
The former Westlife manager added: "I love doing X Factor, I love working with Simon. He is a loose cannon but he makes great TV. He is going to have the best TV show this year. But he has four judges - does he need five?"
A spokesperson for The X Factor told Digital Spy: "The X Factor is one of the most watched shows on TV. It continues to draw millions of viewers each weekend with millions more watching on catch up. A total of 9.6m watched the opening episode including 2m on demand. The live shows do not start until the end of next month and any talk of plans at this stage is speculation."
The news has received a mixed reaction from commentators on social media with fans of 'loveable Louis' backing his return, while others regard it as a sure sign of the talent show's demise.
Meanwhile executive producer, Richard Holloway, suggested the show would benefit from a sabbatical. He told Billboard: "Viewing habits have changed enormously, especially in the last couple of years... we all got to appreciate that and kind of consider it more. '[X Factor] will have a finite life span. But I think you then rest it, then you bring it back."
#xfactor is struggling, and their grand plan is to bring back Louis Walsh? Call it a day, people.
— Anthony Lorenzo (@ringolorenzo) September 25, 2015
— Global Radio (@LoveGlobalRadio) September 15, 2015
Goodbye weekend! Like Louis Walsh I didn't know how much I loved you till you'd gone and left us wi' nowt but the Grimmers of a Monday morn!
— Fat Brenda (@fatbrenda) September 13, 2015
X factor is nothing without Louis Walsh I was bored yet again this week
— electric lady liv (@odellcriss) September 13, 2015