The X Factor UK revealed its new judging panel for 2018 today! The panel includes One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson, Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda, and (of course) Simon Cowell. Though it has been rumored to be true for a few weeks now, The X Factor confirmed the judges today in a tweet.
The new judging panel was maybe one of the worst kept secrets in showbiz, with Simon all but confirming Robbie and Ayda Williams as judges a few weeks ago and hinting at a deal being signed with Louis a few days ago. Even the judges were aware of the early speculation. Robbie Williams, upon entering the press launch today, said, “Huge surprise, right? I mean, who knew?”
Still, the reactions on social media have been mixed. Many fans seem underwhelmed by the panel as a whole. Specifically, fans have been questioning the decision to add Robbie Williams’ wife Ayda to the panel. In a press conference today, Simon explained that he wanted an “optimistic panel.” He defended adding Ayda as a judge saying, “Ayda is the rock because Robbie can be a bit nuts. She’s also so passionate about music. She’s passionate about people and people doing well and has an optimism…I’ve never felt so excited.” Ayda herself admitted she was the “underdog” on the panel. She explained, “If it wasn’t a challenge, it wouldn’t be so fun. I’m excited to be the underdog and to give the boys a run for their money.”
Fans do seem excited that Louis Tomlinson will be back on The X Factor though, returning to the stage where One Direction got their start. Many people commented they will be watching the show just to see Louis. Other fans on social media were worried that the new commitment would interfere with new music from him. Understandably so because Louis has had a very successful post-1D solo career so far. They don’t want him to lose momentum by taking time away from his music. He responded to those comments in the press conference today by saying, “People were worried I was going to give up music. My release schedule actually hasn’t changed.” And about joining the judging panel, Louis also said, “It just made a lot of sense. I’ve always been very interested in development. Granting opportunity to other people is something that’s really exciting to me.”
It definitely is exciting to see The X Factor making such big changes to the judging panel! The major shake-up comes as a response to The X Factor being dominated by Strictly Come Dancing in the ratings last season. It will be interesting to see if this moves the needle for the show, now entering its 15th series. And with auditions starting tomorrow at London’s Wembley Arena, we’ll finally get a peek at what the panel’s dynamic will be! It is also worth noting that Sharon Osbourne will return as a judge during the live shows. She will be filling in for Robbie, who has touring commitments at that time.