Gary Barlow is set to join the panel for Simon Cowell’s upcoming new music show Walk The Line – with the X Factor mogul stepping aside to focus on his roles off-camera.
In a statement sent to Sky News, Cowell said he was looking to concentrate on his role as creator and producer of the show, while a source close to the star said he also wants to spend more time with his family – seven-year-old son, Eric, and partner Lauren Silverman.
Take That star Barlow, who has sold more than 50 million records during his career, replaces the X Factor mogul on-screen on the show, which is due to air this autumn on ITV. Maya Jama will host the series.
Cowell’s appearance on Walk The Line was expected to mark his return to TV in the UK after breaking his back in an accident on an electric bike at his home in Malibu in August 2020.
His treatment involved six hours of surgery, which included the insertion of a metal rod into his back. While he has said he has made a full recovery, doctors reportedly told him he had been lucky.
Speaking about the decision to move off-screen for Walk The Line, Cowell said: “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 of the first series of our new show, Walk The Line.”
“On that basis, I am thrilled that Gary is joining the panel. 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.”
A source close to Cowell said: “Simon wants to focus on his role as creator and executive producer of Walk The Line – as it is a new launch – in the coming weeks. Simon did the same thing when America’s Got Talent first launched in the US in 2006.
“And after breaking his back last year and still working to strengthen that and following an exceptionally busy period of filming which recently saw him spend an extended period of time away from home, Simon also wants to devote more time to his family in the next few weeks.”
Walk The Line will offer musical variety acts a chance to win a prize pot, but to win the money they must decide if they want to cash out or risk it all to stay in the competition.
Barlow said in a statement to Sky News: “When Simon calls, it’s usually with something fairly extraordinary. I’m so excited to be involved in a brand-new TV show, and of course my favourite part of Walk The Line is discovering new talent.”
ITV said: “We are delighted that Gary has decided to join the Walk The Line family, and we understand and support Simon’s decision to focus on his role as producer and creator for this debut series.
“Gary will bring his musical expertise as one of the world’s leading singer songwriters to the show, which promises to uncover some brilliant new talent and offer the unique chance to win a life-changing prize.”
Earlier this year, ITV revealed that Cowell has no plans for another series of X Factor, the show which launched the careers of pop acts including Little Mix, One Direction, Leona Lewis and JLS.