'Door is always open' - Louis Walsh set for shock X Factor return as 'fifth judge' to boost show ratings
Louis Walsh is set to return to X Factor in a bid to save the show's falling ratings.
The music mogul (63) is reportedly going to make a comeback to the long-running talent show as a fifth judge, just months after he was replaced on the panel by BBC Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw. Louis had served as a judge for 11 seasons of the X Factor before announcing his departure from the show earlier this year.
According to a source close to the show, Louis will have a completely new role on the show, acting as a "neutral" critic who won't sit with the rest of the judging panel.
"This is a complete bolt from the blue that no one expected. Louis is an X Factor legend and Simon [Cowell] wants him back for the live shows. They're great friends," an insider said.
"He will be a neutral fifth judge who will sit in a special place away from the others to provide unbiased comments on the contestants." The source said the move was a bid to boost the famous singing competition's low viewing figures and that Louis was also set to work on a new Irish talent show with Cowell.
"Louis could annoy a lot of people, but he was brilliant at creating the drama required to make a show like X Factor worked," a source told the Irish Sun.
"It's all been too nice during the auditions this year. [Nick] is popular backstage, but viewers think he's boring.
"It's a massive coup for Louis, who is also going to sign a deal with Simon to help launch Ireland's Got Talent as a judge."
However, Mayo native Louis has yet to comment on speculation that he will return to the show.
Speaking recently, the former Westlife manager said he believes the show was "missing" him and former presenter Dermot O'Leary, who was also excluded from this year's line up.
"Simon's got a new face himself. He wanted younger faces so he hired them. I was probably too old for the show," he said.
"I have been watching. I think Dermot's missed big time. I really do. I think the older people like me and Dermot.
"It's not as good. I think they're missing me and Dermot to be really honest with you," he added.