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X Factor axed after 17 years: Simon Cowell 'pulls plug' on ITV show

The music mogul launched the X Factor in 2004

Gemma Strong

The end of an era. Simon Cowell has reportedly decided to pull the plug on The X Factor, 17 years after it first aired on ITV.

Simon, 61, is said to have accepted that while the format is still successful in other parts of the world, it has become "slightly stale" in the UK, the Sun reports. He is said to have made the decision to shelve the show for five years with claims that it is now "unlikely" to ever return.

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Instead, Simon is said to be concentrating on his new game show, Walk the Line.

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The X Factor last aired in its original format in 2018. The following year, Simon brought the one-off series The X Factor: Celebrity to screens with Megan McKenna crowned the winner. The series was then halted in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. An ITV spokesperson has confirmed that there are "no current plans" for another season.

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Steve Brookstein was the first-ever winner of The X Factor in the UK

The X Factor first aired in 2004 with Steve Brookstein the first-ever winner of the show. Since then, stars including One Direction, Leona Lewis and JLS have gone on to find fame.

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In March this year, host Dermot O'Leary was asked about the future of the show. "I can't see it coming back this year," he told new! magazine. "If it does come back, it'll be 2022, maybe 2023."

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The 2018 judges: Robbie, Ayda, Louis and Simon

He continued: "You do miss it, definitely. You work with people for the best part of ten years and you become a really tight team. And you do miss the buzz of a Saturday night show. There's something great about it."

Dermot has hosted the show since 2007 when he took over the role from Kate Thornton. He appeared in the 2018 series alongside judges Simon, Louis Tomlinson, Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda Field. The competition that year was one by Louis' protégée Dalton Harris.

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