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Stop losing viewers, Cowell orders judges

X FACTOR boss Simon Cowell has ordered this year's judges to up their game and stop losing viewers.

And Take That star Gary Barlow has said the mogul is up in arms as the ITV programme is hit with reports of falling ratings and he needs them to give it both barrels.

The acid-tongued TV giant said he's expecting much more from judges Gary, Louis Walsh, Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland.

"Simon said we need to work at the show and make it 10pc better each week, so by the end of the series the show will be at least 50pc better," said Gary. "That is what we are trying to do this week. We are all upping our game. There is always room for improvement. There can be better songs, better styling and performances."

Furious Simon phoned the judges from his US base after viewing figures dropped by two million from last year to 11.4 million on Saturday.

He also reckons that the contestants are getting too cocky and think they're already famous after just two weeks of the show and singled out Frankie Cocozza as one that needs to do better.

"The trouble with the artists this year is they are all obsessed with Twitter and headlines. It feels like they are all getting a bit above themselves," he said.

And the situation has not been helped by simmering tensions between Gary and his fellow judge Louis, who is the only remaining personality to last all eight series.

The Mayo man took a pop at Gary's song choices last week, describing them as "terrible" and blasted former Destiny's Child babe Kelly Rowland for "neglecting" one teenager, Sophie Habibis.

"Last week's show was good but Gary should have picked better songs. He may be a great songwriter but that doesn't make you a good judge.

"His song choices are terrible. For someone who knows so much about songs, he picked three very average ones. I know he can do better, he has some way to go before he is the perfect judge. He has to realise it is a TV show, it is about the personality, the attitude and the thing I call likeability, as well as the voice."

Louis reckons Kelly is "too R&B" for the show and she needs to be more mainstream in her music tastes. "This is a Saturday night show for all the family," he continued. "The old songs are the best, the classic ones that have lasted 20, 30 or 40 years. Give me those over some of this new urban or disco rubbish anytime.

"I would pick Whitney over Rihanna and give me Diana Ross over any of these people. Gary and Kelly are obsessed with the voice but it is not just the voice -- it is whether you entertain."

However, Gary isn't taking Louis' comments lying down. "He is in Dublin all week. He doesn't really care. Louis says his acts are focused. This is panto talk -- he uses the same lines and if I say a good line, he nicks that too," he said.

mfinn@herald.ie