After months of speculation, not helped by Dannii Minogue's surprise leaving announcement on Saturday night, the line up for The X Factor 2011 panel will finally be confirmed within the next 10 days, we can reveal. The three new judges - who will join Louis Walsh - will make their first appearance in Birmingham on June 1.
A source said: "Everything is almost complete behind the scenes, it's just a case of dotting the i's and crossing the t's."
Take That star Gary Barlow is expected to take over from Simon Cowell on the panel and has seemingly already been confirmed by Louis Walsh - even if Cowell's rep did still deny it! Walsh said of the new judge: "He’s my favourite pop star in the UK."
Louis added: "I think Gary is a brilliant replacement. He knows the business inside out and is in a position to give advice.”
Meanwhile it looks as though Cheryl Cole is set to be replaced by another group singer, Tulisa from Hip-Hop trio N-Dubz. The 22-year-old is reportedly set to pocket £500,000 for her first year on the show, while Gary Barlow is said to be getting a massive £1.5 million pay deal.
The final position on the panel - that of Dannii Minogue - looks less certain. Kelly Rowland, Rachel Stevens, Mel C, Lilly Allen, Charlotte Church and Katherine Jenkins are just some of the names linked to the role. While some have denied flat out they'll be taking part, others have been more coy when talking about the show.
Kelly Rowland recently said: "The X Factor is an amazing show. I love Simon because he’s so honest.”
She added: “Everything he says I agree with. I don’t know what kind of judge I’ll be.”
However Dannii Minogue's exit has seemingly taken the show by surprise, so much so that the first auditions - originally scheduled for two days ago - have been moved to the middle of June. To us this would indicate that the team weren't all that prepared for Minogue to drop out and her replacement could well not have signed any deals as yet.
Louis Walsh meanwhile has made it clear who wants to see back on the panel, commenting: “I’d like Katy Perry and I would like Sharon Osbourne. They would be my two favourites. People who are feisty.”
One thing is for sure and that's you can expect the new line up to be on the site as soon as it's announced. For all the latest X Factor news join more than 6,000 other fans by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.
The first X Factor 2011 auditions start on June 1 in Birmingham and we'll be at the N.E.C. blogging the first audition show!