It was probably the worst kept secret in television, but this year’s ‘x factor’ judging panel has finally been confirmed with Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh all making a comeback. The three former judges will join Simon Cowell when the show returns later this year and he'll no doubt be hoping the familiar faces will bring back viewers after last series’ low ratings.

Sharon Osbourne was part of the original judging panel when the show debuted in 2004, but she made her last appearance in 2013. The 63-year-old said she was ‘overjoyed’ about returning to the show and sitting with “Lou, Lou, gorgeous Nicole and naughty Simon.”

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Louis Walsh (or Lou Lou as Sharon calls him) was also part of the show’s original judging line-up, but left last year as part of the unsuccessful shake-up which saw Nick Grimshaw and Rita Ora join the panel. “He’d say otherwise but I knew Simon missed me last year!” Louis said.

"I’m delighted to be back on the panel especially beside my two favourite female judges Sharon and Nicole, and I’m looking forward to taking them all back to Dublin this year when we head there for auditions.”

Former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger last appeared on the panel in 2013 and has twice claimed victory with her acts. "I'm excited about discovering, mentoring and winning with an exciting new act this year,” Scherzinger said. "And having had winning contestants in the past, Simon knows I will do it.”

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The newly revealed team will launch the contest’s audition rounds on June 10 at Leicester City's King Power Stadium, alongside host Dermot O’Leary. But in a series first, wannabe singers can now audition without leaving their homes through the show’s Facebook live page.