Simon Cowell stepping down as TV judge and reveals who will take his place

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Simon Cowell (Getty)
Simon Cowell wants to take a step back from his role as a TV judge. (Getty)

Simon Cowell has announced he is stepping down as a judge on his latest TV talent show, deciding to take a back seat.

The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent creator – who broke his back in August last year – has announced that he is passing on the baton to Take That's Gary Barlow to be head judge on his new show Walk The Line.

Cowell, 62, said in a statement to The Sun: “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.

Read more: The 'X Factor' axed after 17 years

“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.”

Gary Barlow arrives at the X Factor auditions, at Excel London.
Gary Barlow will take over from Simon Cowell as head judge on his latest show. (PA)

New ITV talent show Walk The Line will see musical acts compete for a jackpot prize of £500,000.

Each episode will see soloists, groups and choirs perform, and the two acts judged the best at the end of the night must choose whether to take the cash prize offered or continue to the next stage of the competition.

Barlow, 50, added: “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.”

Watch: 'AGT' comedian's uncomfortable moment as Simon Cowell buzzes him during performance flop

The singer previously replaced Cowell as head judge on The X Factor between 2011 and 2013 while the music mogul was busy working on his projects in the US.

Cowell – who lives in Los Angeles with girlfriend Lauren Silverman, 44, and son Eric, seven – broke his back last year trying out a new electric bike at his Malibu home with his family.

He underwent surgery following the accident and adopted a vegan diet as part of his recovery.

Earlier this year he said he felt lucky not to have been left paralysed by his injuries.

Pop Idol judges (from left) Simon Cowell, Pete Waterman, Nicki Chapman and Neil Fox, during a press conference at Thames TV in London, to launch a new series of Pop Idol.   25/10/03: The search for the nation's Pop Idol was hotting up Saturday, with the hopefuls whittled down from 12 to 10. Each finalist will sing live on the show tonight and the public will vote for their favourites. The two with the least number of votes will have to wave goodbye to their chance of stardom.
Simon Cowell rose to fame as a judge on Pop Idol alongside fellow music experts Pete Waterman, Nicki Chapman and Neil Fox 20 years ago. (PA)

He said: "If you saw the scan, I mean, I was like a millimetre away from just completely cutting my back in half. So I consider myself lucky. It could've been a lot worse."

Read more: Jedward call Simon Cowell 'nothing but a bad facelift'

The music producer rose to fame 20 years ago as a judge on Simon Fuller's Pop Idol in 2001 and American Idol in 2002.

Cowell went on to launch his own TV talent show The X Factor in 2004, followed by America's Got Talent in 2006 and Britain's Got Talent a year later. Since then he has become a stalwart of ITV Saturday night TV.

Watch: Simon Cowell is currently appearing as a judge on America's Got Talent

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