With a drop in ratings, NOW can reveal Simon Cowell and Cheryl are feeling the heat…

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It’s been just three weeks since The X Factor returned to our screens with a new judging panel, a new format, new presenters and two new judges. But already the show’s been panned for being ‘boring’ amid an astonishing fall in ratings before its rival, Strictly Come Dancing, even kicked off.

Not only has this come at the worst time for Simon Cowell, 55, who’s been in emotional turmoil after losing his mum Julie in July, but it’s also a huge strain on new executive producer Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, 32, who’s under pressure to prove herself as more than just a judge.

Cheryl Feels The Strain

With two new additions to the X Factor judging panel finding their feet this year, Cheryl’s realised it was the perfect time to cement her position as more than just a judge. Yes, she’s now an executive producer of the show – but it comes at a price as all eyes, including Simon’s, are now on her to prove herself amid the ratings war.

An eager Cheryl was overheard telling a pal that she was having weekly meetings with Simon and was allowed more of an input into the show’s format. But despite being ecstatic to be given the groups category, Cheryl Tweeted after the first episode: ‘What a show! I’m exhausted #xfactor’. And last week she admitted: ‘I am so nauseatingly tired!! and drained for the 6 chair challenge yesterday and it wasn’t even mine. #help’.

As Cheryl knows only too well after being sacked from the US X Factor in 2011, if things don’t go to plan, heads will roll. Last year, Simon said of the incident: ‘There was so much expectation on the show in America. Cheryl was nervous, shy, not in her comfort zone. She’d lost her confidence. After two days I called her and said: “Look, it’s not going great, to be honest.’

Cheryl’s response was to tell him he’d ‘betrayed’ her.

This time, the pressure to make the show a success is even greater. So is Cheryl up to the challenge? We reckon so!

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Simon faces new fakery row

It’s been a tough year for Simon after the death of his beloved mother Julie two months ago. And now Simon’s facing a new problem as he struggles to make a success of The X Factor. After the first episode it was revealed that five acts were seasoned performers and on the following night’s show it seemed at least three acts were already established.

It’s sparked a MASSIVE online row, with viewers branding the series ‘fake’. One online user by the name of Mole said: ‘The fact is people are tired of this show. It has run its course. Enough is enough.’

Another commented: ‘Desperation having to bring in acts that have already made it in the hopes of boosting the show. The whole premise of the X Factor was to find new talent surely!’

The bad publicity won’t be the only thing Simon’s unhappy about. As part of the show’s new format, the public decide which of the judges gets to mentor which category, with Simon admitting: ‘I’d love to mentor the girls this year.’

But it was then announced that Rita Ora’s been given the girls, Cheryl’s got the groups and Nick Grimshaw’s got the boys, leaving Si with the over-25s. In response, Simon Tweeted: ‘Wasn’t the category I was expecting. I did win last year with the overs so I’m sure we will do great things this year.’

So can Simon prove the critics wrong and turn things around for the show? He’s proved time and time again he has the Midas touch and, for all the controversy, The X Factor is still must-see TV.

An insider’s revealed Simon is going all out to make sure every judge is accompanied by an A-list mentor for the judges’ houses stage. If anyone can make it work, he can!