'X Factor' judge Louis Walsh quits talent show after 13 'fantastic' years
More than 30,000 contestants have already entered the 2018 series after auditions opened across the country
Long-standing judge of The X-Factor, Louis Walsh, has announced that he has quit the talent show after 13 "fantastic" years.
The 65-year-old Walsh has been the show's longest-serving judge, appearing on all except one edition since it began in 2004. Production company Thames thanked him for playing a "huge part" in the show's success.
"The show needs a change and I'm ready to leave," said Walsh in a statement. However, he added that he would continue to serve as a judge on Ireland's Got Talent, but will be focusing more on his "day job as a manager, writing my memoirs and seeing the world".
"[The X Factor is] fun, but I do want to get back into music next year," he said. "I want to find one or two new acts to manage. I love doing that."
The managing director of Thames, Amelia Brown, said that Walsh's "contribution cannot be overstated. We would like to thank him for all he has given to the show over the years and look forward to continuing to work with him in the future," Brown added.
As for other judges, Simon Cowell, who created the show but has only been a judge in six series, will return to the show. The 15th series due to air this autumn on ITV will feature three new judges whose names have not yet been disclosed. Meanwhile, Sharon Osbourne will have a rather new role on the show when it returns. She will serve as a judge only during the live episodes, skipping the audition process.
"We are very excited Sharon is taking on a new role on the show and we can't wait to see her as a judge on the live episodes," said Brown. "I can't wait to get back to the judges' desk," she said. "I love the new format."
Brown added: "This is the start of a new era for The X Factor. I am really excited about all the ideas we have for the coming series including, of course, the new judging panel."
Judges' auditions for the X Factor 2018 will take place at Wembley Arena in London and previously advertised auditions in Liverpool will now take place at the venue in the capital.
More than 30,000 contestants have already entered the 2018 series after auditions opened across the country.