Tears, tantrums, judges at war and a brutal cull of wannabes ... yes folks, The X Factor is back

X Factor judge Louis Walsh claims Gary Barlow has swiped his rightful place as head judge on the TV talent show.

The music manager said he expected his seniority as a show veteran would make him chief panelist in Simon Cowell's absence.

But he said that newcomer Barlow instantly muscled in to take the prime role on the show which returns on Saturday.

He said: "After eight years on the show and being the only surviving original judge I was expecting to be head judge this year.

"But on day one Gary stole my head judge mug and sat in Simon's old seat. There's always next year I suppose."


Take That star Barlow -- who has fitted in auditions between his group's sell-out gigs this summer -- said there could be no-one better qualified than the latest judging panel in advising the wannabes.

He, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa Contostavlos from N-Dubz have joined Walsh to replace Cheryl Cole, Dannii Minogue and Cowell, who is busy with his US version of the show.

Barlow said: "I suppose in terms of who they could have picked to be new judges alongside Louis, there's no-one more valid than me, Kelly and Tulisa because we're out there doing it right now. We're selling tickets, selling records, and we're out there doing what these guys want to be doing."

He said he is relishing the chance to point contestants in the right direction.

"I just want to be here to help people and I want them to be able to look up to me and be able to say to me, 'tell me, do I do this or this?'," Barlow said. And he believes it is better to be blunt about the hopefuls rather than giving them false hope.

"I don't think it's about dashing people's hopes, it's about being real with them, but if I've disliked a performance, I've told them that I didn't really enjoy it very much. We have to be real with them."