Louis Tomlinson was reduced to tears on The X Factor 2018 tonight as Anthony Russell returned.
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”.
In tonight’s episode, Anthony returned to the stage and revealed a close connection with new judge Louis Tomlinson.
Speaking ahead of the episode, Simon Cowell said: “I knew that Louis had reached out to help him with his demons a long time ago.
“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.”
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.
“Louis didn’t know Anthony was going to come back to the show this year, he just did it because he liked him.
“It’s a side a lot of people are going to find out about Louis, he’s a really kind, generous guy, he really is.”
In the show this evening, Anthony said: “I got an inbox on Twitter off Louis and I started chatting to him. He’d seen my story in the papers and said ‘I want to help you’.
“I went away to rehab for four months, it was a blessing. As soon as my head started clearing I thought, ‘I’m getting right back on that X Factor’.
“I’m not on this earth to throw the towel in. That’s the easy thing to do… I’m thankful to be back but I’m absolutely terrified.”
In the episode, Anthony sang Avvici’s Wake Me Up.
“The lyrics mean so much to me,” sid Anthony as Louis encourages him to “smash it lad”.
Simon said: “We’ve gone through quite a ride together over the last 12 months.”
After Anthony performed, a tearful Louis reacted: “I’m pretty emotional after that… I can’t even talk here.”
“Thank a lot Louis, thanks a lot for reach out, I weren’t expecting that. Thank you so much, man,” replies Anthony.
Anthony got four yeses from the panel, seeing him through to the next stage for a second year.
Other acts in tonight’s episode included Olatunji Yearwood from Trinidad and Tobago who sings Calypso and Soca music and performed his own songs.
We also met Marc Higgins, a 36-year-old Firefighter at Southampton Airport who previously made judges’ houses in 2010 as part of a group, and Jacqueline Faye, a 53-year-old from Wales who sings Cilla Black’s You’re My World.
The X Factor 2018 airs Saturday ad Sunday nights on ITV.
The final takes place in December.