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Simon Cowell Recruits Neighbours Robbie Williams and Wife Ayda to Restore X-Factor Magic

Neighbours to the rescue: Robbie Williams, Ayda Field, Louis Tomlinson and Simon Cowell pose during The X Factor 2018 launch at Somerset House on 17 July 2018 in London

Simon Cowell knows the value of good neighbours. He has recruited two to help him on his flagging hit TV show, The X Factor. The showbiz impresario will be joined on the judging panel by his close Holland Park neighbours from west London, Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda Field, the first time a husband and wife have been judges on the show. Louis Tomlinson completes the quartet on the new-look judging panel for the ITV singing talent show.

The three new judges appeared with Cowell at a press conference at Somerset House in central London where they were officially revealed on 17 July. Williams is a global superstar fresh from performing at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Russia and has sold more than 75 million albums over his career and won 18 BRIT Awards – more than any other artiste in history.

He has been playing to sold out stadiums across the world over the past year on his The Heavy Entertainment Show Tour – which has seen him perform to more than 1.25m fans across the UK, Europe and Australasia.

Williams released the platinum-selling The Heavy Entertainment Show album in November 2016 – it debuted at Number 1 on the UK album chart, giving him his 12th number 1 solo album.

Ayda Field – American actress and Robbie’s wife for eight years – will be competing with her husband to claim the winning spot on this year’s show. But Williams will be hoping his relationship with his wife survives the show after his well-publicised fall-out with neighbour Jimmy Page over a long-running planning dispute in Holland Park.

Tomlinson is the first judge to have also appeared as a contestant on the show. As a member of One Direction he has sold more than 150m records worldwide and achieved more than 100 global No1s. One Direction were the biggest selling UK act globally for three consecutive years and in 2013 they were overall the biggest selling act in the world.

As a solo artist, Louis’ single Back to You hit No.1 in 37 countries and has been streamed more than 220 million times. He recently won the 2018 iHeartRadio award for Best Solo Breakout and is currently recording his debut solo album.

Boost: Louis Tomlinson and Simon Cowell laugh during The X Factor 2018 launch at Somerset House on 17 July, 2018 in London

Music mogul and show creator Cowell has been the mastermind behind some of the music industry’s biggest acts from Leona Lewis and One Direction to Little Mix and James Arthur. Acts from The X Factor UK have sold more than 250 million records globally to date.

Cowell told the gathered media at the press conference: “This new panel is all about optimism, everyone has a real passion for finding a new star. The three new judges bring a whole new energy and I’m excited.”

Williams said: “For nearly 30 years I’ve been touring. I’ve been wanting to branch out and The X Factor felt like the perfect vehicle. Ayda is my rock, she’s looked after me through thick and thin. I’m looking forward to getting started as a judge!”

Sharon Osbourne will also return as a judge for The X Factor’s live shows while Dermot O’Leary is back as presenter. Auditions for the 15th series of The X Factor begin at The SSE Arena, Wembley on 18 July.




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