Louis Walsh to face X Factor axe?

Louis Walsh is reportedly facing the axe from 'The X Factor' judging panel in a shake-up which could see show boss Simon Cowell return to the ITV1 show

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Louis Walsh, Tulisa Contostavlos, Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow

The X Factor judging panel

Louis Walsh is facing the axe from 'The X Factor'.

As part of a shake-up of the ITV1 show - which could see boss Simon Cowell return to the panel - 'X Factor' chiefs are hoping giving the Irish judge the boot could see the programme restored to its former glory, after a huge 2.5 million fans turned off during this series alone.

Louis - who is currently joined on the judging panel by Tulisa Contostavlos, Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow - is thought to be facing the chop from the show in 2012, when 'The X Factor' is in its ninth year.

An insider told The Sun newspaper: "It doesn't take a genius to work out that Simon not being on has hit the ratings.

"ITV are happy with the panel. They think they're great. But they realise when it comes to 'X Factor' judges, there isn't anyone like Simon. He IS 'X Factor'.

"Simon has a lot on his plate in America with the US 'X Factor' but he has not ruled out a return. The likelihood is that Louis will be gone next year - and Simon could make a welcome return."

This comes after the 52-year-old music mogul hinted at a return to the talent series.

He said: "I'm flattered that people are missing me - but I don't want anyone to miss the show."

Despite the 2.5 million fall in viewing figures, ITV1 chiefs are insisting the current series of 'The X Factor' is the second most-popular in the show's history.

A spokesperson said: "The show remains the most popular entertainment programme and this is the second most popular series in its eight-year history."

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