The X Factor 2016 kicks off with returning judges Simon, Louis, Nicole, Sharon in Leicester

Published Friday, Jun 10 2016, 16:50 BST  |  By  |  Add comment
The X Factor 2016 has officially begun!

Yup, this year's competition has already kicked off and fans got a first look at the new (or should we say returning) judging panel as they arrived for auditions in Leicester earlier today (10 June).

Louis Walsh, The X Factor auditions, Leicester
10 June

© James Watkins/

Nicole Scherzinger, The X Factor auditions, Leicester
10 June

© James Watkins/

Irish music mogul Louis Walsh is back this year following his one year hiatus from the show, along with Nicole Scherzinger and Sharon Osbourne - and they've all had plenty of experience when it comes to sitting alongside Simon Cowell on the judging panel.

Louis had been a judge on X Factor since its first air date back in 2004, while Sharon has five series under her belt and Nicole has two. Now, the trio have been reinstated following Cheryl, Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw all choosing to quit the show at the end of its last series.

Speaking about his return, Louis has said: "I'm delighted to be back on the panel especially beside my two favourite female judges Sharon and Nicole, and I'm looking forward to taking them all back to Dublin this year when we head there for auditions."

He looked right at home as he arrived at auditions, and was caught beaming for the camera. Nicole, meanwhile, oozed sass in her tailored two-piece suit, teaming it with a slick of red lipstick she matched.

She has said she "can't wait" to reunite with Louis and Sharon, revealing: "I'm so excited! I miss England. I haven't been there in a while. It's my second home and I'm happy to be reunited with Sharon and Louis. I haven't seen them in a while. And Simon, of course!"

Sharon Osbourne, The X Factor auditions, Leicester
10 June

© James Watkins/

Simon Cowell, The X Factor auditions, Leicester
10 June

© James Watkins/

Sharon, on the other hand, seems more excited about meeting Simon's son Eric instead.

She said: "I'm overjoyed about going back to The X Factor, sitting with Lou, Lou, gorgeous Nicole and naughty Simon. But most of all, I can't wait to meet baby Eric."

They aren't the only ones returning this series, as host Dermot O'Leary is also making a comeback.

Dermot O'Leary, The X Factor auditions, Leicester
10 June

© James Watkins/

He had decided to step down last year, after eight years presenting on The X Factor. Dermot was replaced by presenting duo Caroline Flack and Olly Murs, but confirmed his return back in March.

Sharing his thoughts on this year's judges, Dermot has tweeted: "Well... That'll keep me on my toes."

Ooh! We can't wait to see them all in action.

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