7 JUNE 2008

Following "four fantastic and successful series", Sharon Osbourne has announced she is stepping down from The X-Factor judges' rostrum.

Revealing her decision, the fiery redhead said her time with the programme had been "an exciting ride". She also thanked fellow judge Simon Cowell. The two will continue to work together on their hit show America's Got Talent.

"Sharon has been a tremendous judge and mentor," said a spokesman for ITV. "We thank her for her immense contribution to the show and for all her humour, compassion and energy."

"It won't be the same without her," added co-judge Louis Walsh, who described the popular 55-year-old as his "best friend" on the show.

With a new series of the reality TV show just around the corner, thoughts have turned to who will replace the wife of rock star Ozzy. Names so far have included pop icon Lulu, along with American Idol judge Paula Abdul.

Photo: ©
Sharon, pictured with her fellow X-Factor judges Louis Walsh, Simon Cowell, Dannii Minogue and the show's presenter Dermot O'Leary, has announced that she is leaving the hit reality show after four years Photo: © Getty Images Click on photo to enlarge