Troubled Anthony Russell has returned to The X Factor - but new judge Louis Tomlinson ABSTAINED from voting for him due to their existing friendship.
Anthony became one of the favourites to win the show last year following an emotional performance of Julia Michaels' 'Issues'.
However, a shock development saw him quit the competition ahead of the Six Chair Challenge, citing "personal reasons".
Now, several months on, Anthony is reportedly giving the ITV talent contest another shot.
According to MailOnline, the 28-year-old appeared at the arena auditions, with a try-out that reportedly moved Louis 'to tears'.
But the One Direction star declined to participate in the judges' vote, believing it would be unfair - as he had previously become friends with Anthony.
A 'friend' of Louis told the publication that he had reached out to the Liverpool lad following his sudden exit.
"Louis felt an affinity to Anthony," the pal explained. "He believed he had a real future.
"He got in touch with Anthony as soon as he left the show last year and has been a constant friend to him.
"From when he first spoke to Anthony, he was determined to get Anthony fit and well enough to enter the show in 2018. Louis had no idea at that stage that he would become a judge in the future.
"He is delighted to be a judge now – but was determined to be 100 per cent transparent with his fellow judges, the audience and the general public at large, about the support he has given to Anthony."
Nonetheless, Anthony apparently made it through to the next round after getting three yesses from the other judges.
Louis was announced as one of three new additions to the panel at a press conference earlier this month.
Joining him and show regular Simon Cowell are pop superstar Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda Field.
Sharon Osbourne is also returning for the live shows only as an impartial fifth judge.
The X Factor returns to our screens for its fifteenth series next month.