Louis Walsh
Louis Walsh has paid £20,000 to return to The X Factor but it may not be screened on TV Getty

Viewers were devastated when he left but beloved X Factor judge Louis Walsh will be making a return to the ITV series. Although, it is not a permanent move as the music manager simply paid £20,000 (£30,000) at a charity auction for the privilege, much to the surprise of show boss Simon Cowell.

Walsh, 63, attended the Music Industry Trusts Awards at London's Grosvenor House Hotel on 2 November 2015 where he reunited with his old X Factor colleagues, including Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and show host Caroline Flack. According to reports, after Cowell was honoured with the special contribution to the music industry award, Walsh stood up and raised his hand to pay for the opportunity to return to the The X Factor.

However, there is a good chance fans of the singing competition will not actually get to see Walsh take up his seat on the judging panel again as he paid simply to visit during rehearsals. Eyewitnesses at the awards ceremony claim Cowell, 56, clearly did not expect the bid but laughed it off.

Speaking to reporters at the ceremony, Walsh admitted he was enjoying being able to watch the series at home for a change as opposed to being in the judge's hot seat. He explained: "It's my first time sitting at home in 11 years, it's great – in my pyjamas, watching X Factor. But [Cowell] looks different, his face – is it the lighting, is it the make-up?" When asked if he would return to the show on a permanent basis, the former judge said: "Oh, I don't know, I'm keeping an eye on it. I love Louisa and I love Che. They're the two people I love."

Despite the revamped judging panel, which now includes singer Rita Ora and BBC Radio One DJ Nick Grimshaw, the current series of The X Factor has struggled to pull in big ratings in the battle with BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing. The celebrity dancing competition completely trumped X Factor in the ratings, attracting an extra four million viewers than its rival. Weighing in on the problems the singing series is facing, Walsh advised Cowell: "You've made too many changes. Listen to the public. He has to listen to the public – he will for next year."

The X Factor continues on 7 November 2015 at 7.30pm on ITV.