Simon Callow and Vanessa Mae replace Meat Loaf and Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen on Popstar to Opera star

Simon Callow

Violinist Vanessa Mae and theatre director Simon Callow will replace Meat Loaf and Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen as judges on the new series of Popstar to Operastar, it has been revealed. However despite reports Meat Loaf and Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen were dropped from the show, the pair insisted they had left of their own accord.

A spokesperson for the ITV1 primetime(!) show said Meat Loaf and Laurence had stood down from the programme because of schedule clashes with their other working commitments.

However is understood that the 'Bat Out Of Hell' singer previously angered ITV bosses with his comments about their other shows. “I was watching this ‘Skating with the Stars’ thing. I mean, what the f**k is that?" he raged last year after first joining the programme. He added: “And that awful ‘I’m A Celebrity.’ It’s just for Ant and Dec to make money.”

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Simon Callow and Vanessa Mae will join original panellists Katherine Jenkins and Rolando Villazon who both return for a second year. All four will now cast their judgements on a new batch of contestants including X Factor 2009 winner Joe McElderry, ex-Steps singer Steps’ Claire Richards, former Pussycat Dolls member Melody Thornton and Toploader star Joe Washbourne.

Others in the line up for the second series include eighties singers Midge Ure from Ultravox, Erasure’s Andy Bell and Bucks Fizz star Cheryl Baker, along with American soul singer Jocelyn Brown.

Myleene Klass returns to host the show, which starts on Sunday night on ITV1 at 8PM.

A special preview episode will air on Saturday night at 9:30PM between the Britain's Got Talent final performance and results shows

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