Cheryl arrives by helicopter in Northamptonshire

Cheryl Cole has made her return to The X Factor.

Though she was dumped from the US show by Simon Cowell, the pair patched up their differences in July last year after the media mogul sent Cheryl a text asking: ‘Friends again? X’.

Though she replied, ‘You’ve got a nerve…’ Chezza also ended her text with a kiss.

She was expected to appear in the final stages of The X Factor 2011 as a guest – joining new judges Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland, Tulisa Contostavlos and veteran Louis Walsh – only it didn’t happen.

But on Saturday Cheryl, 29, was snapped arriving in a helicopter with Gary, 41, at Boughton House in Northamptonshire to shoot the judges’ houses stage of the series, deciding which of his acts will go through to the live shows.

Gary is believed to have persuaded Cheryl to agree to join him this year after they sang a duet at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert – and it’s said to be a big suprise to Simon, who thought Gary would ask Robbie Williams.

Hard to believe that one, though, as Simon Cowell didn’t get where is by anyone slipping anything past him.

Though Gary and Cheryl are staying in the UK so the Take That star can be close to his family after the sad death of his baby daughter, the other judges are filming abroad.

Nicole Scherzinger is off to Dubai with Ne-Yo, Tinie Tempah joins Tulisa in the Caribbean and Louis is hooking up with ex-judge Sharon Osbourne in Las Vegas.

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