Producers of the X Factor television talent shows are changing the rules to the contest to allow acts who already have managers.
In the past, hopefuls were barred from entering the ITV show if they already had management deals, but Gary Barlow – who confirmed he is still in talks to return to the show – let slip yesterday that the show will be open to all.
During last year’s contest, a group of wannabes called The Mend were dropped from the competition when it emerged they were already had representation.
Yesterday morning, listeners to BBC Radio 2 heard him say: “They’re letting people apply that already have managers. They’re hoping for a more developed artist and a more developed group, if they have management.”
Auditions are due to begin next weekend – on March 3 – in Liverpool as the process swings into action once more, visiting the first of six cities.
The show’s bosses confirmed that anyone aged 16 and above can enter, whether they are “an amateur artist, have had a management deal in the past or have one now”.
Richard Holloway, the managing director of producers Thames TV, said: “We want to find the best talent the country has to offer and we’re not stopping until we find a global superstar. The change in rules means we won’t miss out on any talent that wish to enter.”
It brings the show into line with Simon Cowell’s other prime series Britain’s Got Talent.
Auditions will also take place in Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and London, as well as returning to Newcastle for the first time in several years.
Meanwhile, Cheryl Cole has ruled out a return to The X Factor after declaring it part of her “past”.
The singer suggested she was bored with speculation about whether she would go back to the ITV show and said it is time to “move on”.
It follows comments earlier this week by talent show judge Louis Walsh, who reportedly said she “could be back”.
Cole left the UK show to join the panel for Simon Cowell’s US version of The X Factor when it began last year, but she was axed just two weeks after auditions started, amid claims that her Geordie accent was difficult to understand.
Responding to Walsh’s comments, Cole posted a message on Twitter which said: “X Factor was a great experience and time in my life and career but is now part of my past.”