‘The X Factor’ has reportedly been axed after 17 years on air.

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell

Entertainment mogul Simon Cowell first launched the ITV talent competition in 2004 and had huge success with the format, but according to sources the series – which last aired in 2018 – is now “unlikely” to return to UK screens.

Instead, 61-year-old Simon – who has shelved the series for at least five years – is focusing on a new big-money game show titled ‘Walk The Line’.

A show insider told The Sun newspaper: Globally, it is still a phenomenon and rakes in millions every year. But in the UK, there is no question it has become slightly stale.

“Simon remains at the top of his game and knows how to make a hit. He owns the rights to the show, and it’s his call — not ITV’s — whether or not he drops it.

“Clearly the last thing he wants is for X Factor to fizzle out with a whimper and become a bit of a joke — especially in contrast to the show in its pomp.

“It is still on the back-burner and there’s the option to return it in 2023, with auditions next summer, but a lot will ride on his new format ‘Walk The Line’.”

Simon’s new gameshow is a six-part series expected to fill a prime-time Saturday night slot, and has been described as a “high octane, nail-biting” format which will see contestants perform in front of the Syco boss and a celebrity judging panel.

The top two performers of the night can either cash out with a “life-changing” sum of money, or stay in the competition and risk losing the money should they be eliminated at the next stage.

The TV source added: “There is a lot of money at stake and the concept is fantastic — it’s a bit like a musical version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’

“But it’s a gameshow not a talent show, and it’s important to stress it’s not being eyed as a direct replacement for ‘The X Factor’.”

At its peak, ‘The X Factor’ regularly drew in 12 million viewers, and spawned singing talent such as Little Mix, One Direction, James Arthur, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke, Olly Murs, and JLS.