Cheryl Cole 'happy and excited' with X Factor return...and even Simon Cowell
Cheryl Cole is returning to The X Factor after four years to revive her on-screen partnership with show boss Simon Cowell.
The singer said she was "happy and excited" to be back with the ITV talent search, which has seen a slump in its audience since she bowed out.
Cole is reported to have signed a deal for £1.5m (¿1.8m).
Both Cowell and the former Girls Aloud star quit the show after the 2010 series to launch a new version in the States.
But she was dropped during the audition stages, amid claims that Americans could not understand her Newcastle accent.
Her return to the show was announced by Cowell with a message posted online, which said: "It's official. Cheryl is back. Most importantly she is a brilliant judge of talent."
Cole confirmed the news last night by posting a picture of herself pretending to throttle the programme's creator, with a message which said: "Guess what. I'm baaaacccckkkkk."
Cowell announced recently that he would be returning to the series, after signing a new deal with ITV to continue broadcasting The X Factor.
It is hoped the pair's return will stem the huge exodus of viewers. The duo's last series in 2010 had an audience of 17.2 million when Matt Cardle was crowned the winner, but that figure had dropped by 7.5 million for the climax of the 2013 series.
The series average audience also dropped from 14.1 million in 2010 to just 9.5 million last year.
Cole said: "I'm very happy and excited to be returning to The X Factor. I'm inspired and ready to find new talent and potential pop stars. It's going to be a fun series."
Cowell said: "I am so happy that Cheryl has agreed to join The X Factor again.
"The last time we worked together in the UK was incredible and produced some really successful artists. Obviously the plan is to do the same again... so it's back to work."
Louis Walsh, who announced he was quitting but may have had a change of heart, wrote on Twitter: "It's official. Cheryl is back. Oh no."
Elaine Bedell, ITV's director of comedy and entertainment, said of Cole's return: "She was an extremely popular judge who struck a real chord with our viewers, and we're looking forward to welcoming her back on screen this autumn."