The feud between “The X Factor” U.K. judge Gary Barlow and “The X Factor” executive producer Simon Cowell has reached a breaking point, and Barlow has “secretly” decided to quit the show, if a tabloid is to be believed. The Daily Mirror is reporting that Barlow has already met with “X Factor” bosses to tell them that 2012 will be his second and last year with the show. Barlow’s exit plans have already been put in motion, but the announcement of his leaving the show won’t happen until 2013.
Barlow (who joined “The X Factor” U.K. in 2011) has admitted to the media that he and Cowell are feuding, but he has declined to publicly reveal any details. Although many sources have said that there has always been a power struggle between the two men, the power struggle got worse this year.
Viewers of “The X Factor” U.K. have also noticed the cracks that were starting to show and that Barlow was losing in the power struggle. For example:
- Barlow was assigned to mentor the Overs category (for the oldest singers in the competition), which is a category that has not won on the show since its first year in 2004.
- Week after week, Barlow expressed frustration that controversial contestant Rylan Clark (whom Barlow has blasted for being an off-key drama queen) managed to stay in the competition, while contestants being mentored by Barlow (such Carolynne Poole, Melanie Masson) were among the first to be eliminated after voting from the public began. Barlow frequently clashed with “X Factor” U.K. judges Nicole Scherzinger (who is Clark’s “X Factor” mentor) Louis Walsh and Tulisa Contostavlos, who have been very supportive of Clark. The frustration boiled over on October 7, 2012, when Poole was eliminated instead of Clark, and Barlow walked off of the show in anger at the end of the episode. Clark later went on Twitter to call Barlow a “disgrace.”
- Not long after Barlow walked off of the show, Scherzinger replaced him in the “head judge” seat, and she began bragging to the media that she is now the show’s head judge. She joined the show in June 2012 after she was fired as a judge on “The X Factor” U.S., so she clearly has done something to fall back in favor with Cowell and other “X Factor” bosses.
- Scherzinger sniped about Barlow in a Grazia magazine interview and implied that people on the show make fun of him behind his back: “Gary and I talk music. I respect him but we don’t hang out because he’s spending all his spare time with his family. But I was glad Robbie [Williams] came on and socked it to him with Rylan. I mean, Robbie is on it but Gary just doesn’t get it, but maybe that’s why they call him Gary “Borelow.”
- There have been tabloid reports that Cowell was scheming for ways to eliminate 34-year-old “X Factor” U.K. contestant Christopher Maloney, who is being mentored by Barlow, because Cowell thinks Maloney is too old, too dated and too corny, and because Cowell does not want Barlow to have a contestant in the show’s finals this year. (A spokesperson for Cowell denies those reports.) Many people correctly predicted that out of all the contestants in the show’s Overs category in 2012, Maloney would go the farthest in the competition. Maloney had won the public’s votes to re-enter the competition as a “wild card” contestant after he was previously eliminated this year. However, few people believe that Maloney will win because the show’s winners are almost always under the age of 30.
Barlow has admitted in multiple interviews that he thought about quitting “The X Factor” after his first year in 2011. Another reason why 2012 will likely be his last year as a judge on the show is he is dealing with the stress of the stillborn death of his daughter Poppy (his fourth child), who died in September 2012. Barlow has also said that he had to postpone plans for a new Take That album and tour in 2012 because of “The X Factor.” Putting all of that in perspective, it really would not be surprising if he quit “The X Factor” U.K.
An unnamed source told The Daily Mirror: “It’s time for a shake-up. While Gary has never committed to another series, he was willing to listen to offers if this one went well. However, he was given the least desirable category – the Overs – and three of his four acts have already been eliminated. He feels his integrity has been compromised and the show has lost its credibility. By mutual consent, he will not be returning next year.”
ITV1’s “The X Factor” U.K. is also experiencing an alarming decline in ratings, as BBC rival “Strictly Come Dancing” has regularly scored more viewers, week after week.
Despite all of this turmoil going on with “The X Factor” U.K. behind the scenes, stars from “The X Factor” U.K. came out in a show of support for Barlow on November 5, 2012, as he received the Music Industry Trust Awards at a ceremony held in London’s Grosvenor Hotel. The event was a fundraiser for the Nordoff Robbins charity. Those in attendance in Walsh, Contostavlos, Scherzinger, “X Factor” U.K. host Dermot O’Leary and “The Xtra Factor” co-host Caroline Flack.
Among the other celebrity attendees included Elton John (who presented Barlow with the Music Industry Trust Award), Fazer from N-Dubz, Mylenne Klass, Nicki Chapman, Donny Osmond, Chris Moyles, Alesha Dixon and Kimberley Walsh.
Prince Charles also paid tribute to Barlow via a precordeded video.
At the event, Barlow performed a few songs solo before he was joined by Robbie Williams and the rest of Take That on stage for “Never Forget.” It was the first reunion performance of Williams with Take That in more than a year. Before all of Take That took the stage, Williams and Barlow duetted on Williams’ solo hit “Candy.”
At the end of 2011, Williams announced that he was amicably leaving Take That, but there are reports that he changed his mind and he will be on Take That’s next album and tour in 2013, after he completes promotion for his 2012 solo album “Take the Crown.” After the Industry Trust performance, Williams tweeted: “There is nothing better than having the band back together for a moment.”
If Barlow quits “The X Factor” U.K., then the question becomes, “Who will replace him?”
Walsh gave a groveling interview with The Sun, in which he begged for Cowell to return to the show. However, Cowell is too busy with “The X Factor” U.S., which has been renewed for a third season in 2013. Walsh knows this, so his interview with The Sun appears to be a publicity stunt and a way for Walsh to remain in Cowell’s good graces, since many viewers every year demand that Walsh get fired.
The Daily Mirror also claims Cowell will return to the show as a judge, but Cowell can’t be a full-time judge on both “The X Factor” U.S. and “The X Factor” U.K. as long both shows are filmed during the same months. There is a possibility that Cowell could make more guest appearances on “The X Factor” U.K.
Former “X Factor” U.K. judges Sharon Osbourne and Dannii Minogue have also been named as possible candidates to replace Barlow if he quits. In August 2012, Osbourne tweeted that she wants to return to the show in 2013.
And there is always the possibility that someone who has never been a judge on “The X Factor” U.K. will be chosen to replace Barlow.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens. But for now, it’s become obvious to even the most casual “X Factor” U.K. viewer that Barlow is not as passionate about the job as he was in 2011.
February 28, 2013 update: The Daily Mirror reported that Barlow and Cowell have ended their feud, and Barlow will continue to be a judge on “The X Factor” U.K. in 2013. Click here for more details.