Simon Cowell has admitted that The X Factor 2011 is shaping up to be better without him, with more than 11 million viewers tuning into Saturday's launch. Speaking on holiday in the South of France, Simon said he was "thrilled" with both the numbers and the new panel of judges.
Simon, Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue all left this year's show, with new judges Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland all stepping up to take over on the biggest programme on UK telly.
And the new trio of panellists didn’t' fail to kick off the show with a bang, as 11.31 million viewers tuned in to watch the opening episode - the highest launch figures yet.
"I'm thrilled with the numbers. The new judging team are doing a brilliant job and the show feels even better this year," Simon confessed yesterday.
He continued: "With me not there, it has taken the age down considerably.
"We have four individuals being themselves. It is the public who will decide, but I am very pleased with the start. I want it to be ever more successful - but there is a side of me that wants to be missed."
An insider added: "Of course he has a high opinion of himself as a judge, but he truly believes the show is better this year."
Meanwhile a poll conducted by The Sun has found at, much to his pleasure, Simon Cowell was the most missed judge on Saturday night - with 51% of viewers noticing his absence.
27% missed Cheryl the most, while just 22% felt the show needed Dannii back.
The X Factor 2011 continues on Saturday.