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Sharon Osbourne defends X Factor's Nicole

With the X Factor struggling to match the excitement or viewing figures of earlier series, an unlikely defender has emerged to speak out in support of the judges. Sharon Osbourne has sprung to the defence of Nicole Scherzinger.

The Pssycat Doll has been criticised for being a little too bland and dull, but Osbourne was protective. "She was my find!" Osbourne told The Sun. "I had her as a guest judge on X Factor a few years ago. I spotted her. I think she’s brilliant. She’s actually quite a naughty girl. She’s beautiful, funny . . . she was up dancing at the auditions already, so she’ll be great fun."

There remain concerns about the show’s format and its ratings. It is apparent that viewers miss the bitchy opinions of Simon Cowell. When he made an appearance on the line from Miami it boosted ratings by 1.5 million viewers. The figures are still substantially down from last year’s though.

With the BBC about to launch a new series of Strictly Come Dancing, ITV are worried that there will be a further slump in audience figures. More people are likely to tune in to the BBC show which starts earlier, while many of X Factor’s younger audience record the show to watch later.

Osbourne has made it clear that she would relish a chance to rejoin the show, although there have been a few too many hurtful things said about Cowell to make that a likelihood. If he thought she could restore the ratings though, Cowell would probably swallow his pride and ask her back.

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