X Factor 2018: Simon Cowell explains Louis Tomlinson's friendship with Anthony Russell

Popular contestant has returned to the show after quitting last year's series

X Factor judge Louis Tomlinson and contestant Anthony Russell

Simon Cowell has explained how new X Factor 2018 judge Louis Tomlinson became friends with troubled contestant Anthony Russell ahead of his return to the show.

Anthony was hotly tipped as a potential winner of last year's series, until he suddenly quit midway through.

Having fought through his personal battles, he has now returned to the ITV talent contest for another shot at stardom.

However, it recently emerged that Louis abstained from voting during Anthony's emotional audition.

The One Direction star reportedly felt it would be unfair for him to affect the result, as they'd become friends away from the show.

X Factor boss Simon Cowell has now told how he put Louis in touch with Anthony to offer support.

"I knew that Louis had reached out to help him with his demons a long time ago," Simon explained.

"He called me when he saw Anthony’s audition last year and said his story had really touched him and he wanted me to put him in touch with him. Louis genuinely looked after him.

"I think it says a lot about the kind of person Louis is. He doesn’t brag about it, he doesn’t talk about it. It’s a very personal thing for him."

Despite this, Simon insisted that Louis had no idea Anthony was planning an X Factor comeback.

"Louis didn’t know Anthony was going to come back to the show this year, he just did it because he liked him," the media mogul said.

"It’s a side a lot of people are going to find out about Louis, he’s a really kind, generous guy."

For Simon, getting Louis on the panel was a no-brainer, as he has kept involved in The X Factor behind-the-scenes.

"Louis, out of all of the lads in One Direction, was always the one who would still come down to the show during rehearsal days to give advice to the new contestants," Simon revealed.

"Seeing someone who has gone through the process, I just think is brilliant."

Louis is one of three new judges this year, alongside pop superstar Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda Williams.

The X Factor returns to ITV this Saturday and Sunday at 8.00pm.

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