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Cheryl 'excited' at X Factor return
Cheryl Cole is returning to The X Factor after four years to revive her on-screen partnership with show boss Simon Cowell.
The singer said she was "happy and excited" to be back with the ITV talent search, which has seen a massive slump in its audience since she bowed out.
Cheryl - who has now buried the hatchet with Simon after she was dumped from a US version of the series before it was even broadcast - is reported to have signed a deal for £1.5 million.
Both Simon and the former Girls Aloud star quit the show after the 2010 series to launch a new version across the Atlantic. But she was dropped within weeks, during the audition stages, amid claims that Americans could not understand her Newcastle accent, and the pair fell out.
Her return to the UK show was announced by Simon with a message posted online, which said: "It's official. Cheryl is back. Most importantly she is a brilliant judge of talent."
And Cheryl, 30, confirmed the news last night by posting a humorous picture of herself pretending to throttle the programme's creator, with a message which said: "Guess what. I'm baaaacccckkkkk."
Simon announced recently that he would be returning to the series, after signing a new deal with ITV to continue broadcasting The X Factor.
It is hoped the pair's return will stem the huge exodus of viewers. The duo's last series in 2010 had an audience of 17.2 million watching Matt Cardle crowned the winner, but that figure had dropped by 7.5 million for the climax of the 2013 series when Sam Bailey won.
And the series average audience dropped from 14.1 million in 2010 to just 9.5 million last year.
Cheryl said: "I'm very happy and excited to be returning to The X Factor. I'm inspired and ready to find new talent and potential pop stars. It's going to be a fun series."
And Simon said: "I am so happy that Cheryl has agreed to join The X Factor again.
"The last time we worked together in the UK was incredible and produced some really successful artists. Obviously the plan is to do the same again... so it's back to work."
Veteran judge Louis Walsh, who announced he was quitting but may have had a change of heart, wrote on Twitter: "It's official. Cheryl is back. Oh no."
Elaine Bedell, ITV's director of comedy and entertainment, said of Cole's return: "She was an extremely popular judge who struck a real chord with our viewers, and we're looking forward to welcoming her back on screen this autumn."
Cheryl - whose last album A Million Lights failed to top the charts, unlike its predecessors - was all smiles as she made her first public appearance after rejoining the show.
The singer was seen in shades and wore a knee-length black dress and orange, white and black stilettos as she stepped out in London. She attended an event at the Arts Club in Dover Street, London, with Simon arriving shortly afterwards.
Simon was similarly wearing sunglasses, along with his usual uniform of a jumper with rolled-up sleeves and jeans.