Simon Cowell to step down from Walk The Line judging panel and be replaced by Gary Barlow
Simon Cowell has stepped down from the judging panel of upcoming ITV musical game show Walk The Line.
The music mogul, 62, will now be replaced by Gary Barlow, someone he’s confident ‘will do a fantastic job.’
The anticipated six-part series is set to air later this year and will present an opportunity for musical variety acts to win a life-changing sum of money.
The show was set to represent Simon’s return to primetime TV judging after the plug was pulled on The X Factor earlier this year – but the star has confirmed his role will be limited to behind the camera.
Change-up: Simon Cowell is to step down from Walk The Line judging panel and be replaced by Gary Barlow (the music mogul pictured April 2020)
According to reports in The Sun, Simon’s decision to step down comes with hopes he will be able to spend more time with his partner Lauren Silverman and their seven-year-old son Eric.
Despite not appearing onscreen – a contrast to what UK and US audiences have become accustomed to over the past two decades – Simon will take on the role of executive producer.
The entrepreneur told the publication: ‘This is a situation where I have decided it is right for me to focus on my role as the Creator and Producer as we build up to the hugely exciting launch.
Former co-judges: Simon said of Gary Barlow: ‘I am delighted he is picking up the baton for me for the first series of Walk The Line’ (Gary pictured right on the X Factor judging panel, 2011)
‘Gary’s musical pedigree is second to none – and we have known each other a long time now – so I am delighted he is picking up the baton for me for the first series of Walk The Line. I know he will do a fantastic job.’
Simon and the Take That hitmaker previously worked together on the UK version of the X Factor.
Gary said in an official statement that he was ‘so excited to be involved.’
Recovering: In August 2020, Simon was involved in a electric bike accident at his Malibu home which resulted in him breaking his back
Family first: Simon is pictured with partner Lauren Silverman and son Eric in 2018
In August 2020, Simon was involved in a electric bike accident at his Malibu home which resulted in him breaking his back.
He was forced to undergo a six-hour surgery to try and fix the injuries.
The TV star recalled in an interview in February: ‘I knew I’d broken my back the minute I landed. It was really, really kind of sudden and it hurt.’
Speaking of the aftermath, he said: ‘When I saw the X-ray, I really nearly could have smashed my spine to pieces, so I literally wouldn’t have been able to walk.’
Simon also spoke of being supported by Lauren and Eric: ‘I couldn’t have gotten through it without them, so we got closer.’
A source told The Sun that even though ‘workaholic Simon’ has been involved with Walk The Line from the get-go, his health – alongside lockdown and other upheavals – were additional factors in his decision to back down.
New project: Walk The Line is confirmed to be hosted by Maya Jama with Craig David and singer Mabel (pictured) rumoured to be joining forces with Gary on the judging panel
‘He’s just finished an exceptionally busy period filming which saw him spending an extended period of time away from home, so he also wants to devote more time to his family in the coming weeks,’ the source further explained.
Simon, who created a reality show dynasty when he launched X Factor in 2004, has been scaling back his TV commitments.
In July it was revealed X Factor had been axed after 17 years.
Simon is said to have pulled the plug on the ITV talent show – which last aired in 2018 – because he doesn’t want it to ‘become a bit of a joke.’
While around the world the format is still successful, it seems the music mogul has accepted in the UK ‘it has become slightly stale’ and so has reportedly decided to ‘shelve it’ for five years, but sources are claiming it’s now ‘unlikely’ to ever return.
He will however return for the new series of Britain’s Got Talent.
Walk The Line is confirmed to be hosted by Maya Jama with Craig David and singer Mabel rumoured to be joining forces with Gary on the judging panel.
ITV have backed Simon’s decision, saying they are ‘delighted’ to have Gary on board and ‘understand and support’ the former judge’s choice.
Reaction: ITV have backed Simon’s decision, saying they are ‘delighted’ to have Gary on board and ‘understand and support’ the former judge’s choice (Simon pictured in 2018)