Simon Cowell
TV boss Simon Cowell has said he is 'heartbroken' over the death of his beloved mother Julie CowellREUTERS/Neil Hall

Fans of The X Factor saw a softer side to Simon Cowell, when he broke down during an audition on the TV talent show. The 55-year-old judge, who is grieving the recent loss of his mother Julie Brett, couldn't hide his personal pain as he listened to Josh Daniels heart-felt performance of Labrinth's Jealous on last Sunday (August 30) night's show.

The 21-year-old contestant told the panel that the song held a deep personal significance to him since it captured his own sense of loss following the death of his best friend, who died in a car crash at the age of 18. "I lost my best friend a couple of years ago and I interpret it in a totally different way," he explained to the judges.

The emotional lyrics and the evocative performance left Cowell unable to hold back tears and rendered him speechless. It was later revealed that the pre-recorded scenes were filmed shortly after the death of Cowell's mother Julie Brett on July 5. She had become ill after suffering a stroke in 2014. The music boss was said to be 'devastated' by her loss.

Opening up about the uncharacteristic show of raw emotion, the 55-year-old confirmed that his tears were very much for his mother, who had died just a few days earlier. Speaking to The Sun, the SyCo music manager explained: "It was very raw and it did take me back to the moment, but I think in quite a healthy way. Being upset is a human thing."

He said that producers were initially cautious about even showing him the footage, but he revealed he left the decision to broadcast the emotional moment, entirely to them. "You can't censor stuff like that," said Cowell. "In the end I kind of just said to them, 'I'm OK with it', but I don't want to approve anything, I'll let you make your decision as to what is acceptable and what isn't."

The father-of-one defended 21-year-old contestant Josh, explaining that he had not intended to upset the judge. "The contestant didn't know the situation," Cowell explained. "He wasn't doing it to make me upset. He sang the song for his own reasons. It was more important that he did a good audition."

The X Factor continues on ITV.