When Simon Cowell decided that the X Factor needed a refresh for 2019, a celebrity special was high on his list of priorities.
And why not? Celebrities already ballroom dance, ice skate, camp in the jungle and ski jump, and now they’re going to face the judgment of TV’s most terrifying judge.
Here’s all you need to know about the X Factor celebrity special.
When is the X Factor's celebrity special on TV?
Although we know that there will definitely be a celebrity special series this year, it’s not confirmed exactly when it will take place yet.
It will be one of two X Factor spin-offs that will air in place of the normal annual competition, with the other one inviting back previous contestants for an all-star series.
When he announced the format change, Simon Cowell told The Sun: “The time feels right and it will be a huge change.
"We haven’t exactly confirmed the dates or the order of the shows, but essentially there are going to be two versions of X Factor running this year. I think it’s going to be huge, it’s the best I’ve felt about this show in years."
Both new series are expected to air in the autumn, back-to-back.
Who will be taking part?
While the line-up hasn’t been released yet, there are plenty of rumours out there already.
One of the strongest is that EastEnders star Jacqueline Jossa has been in talks to take part.
Another likely suggestion is that Towie’s Gemma Collins could be making her return to reality TV following her Dancing on Ice stint – and could even be in a duo with keen singer and on-off boyfriend James 'Arg' Argent - if they’re still speaking at the time.
Simon has said he’d love to get his Britain’s Got Talent co-star David Walliams involved, and the comedian has definitely not ruled it out.
He said: “If I can kill that format forever by appearing on it, I’d very much like to.
“I’ve mentioned it to him [Simon]. I cannot sing a note so I’d fit in very well. It would be fun.”
Who are the judges?
The judging panel hasn’t been announced, but it seems likely that Simon will want to take up his seat on the panel again to make sure everything goes smoothly with the new show.
Months back when it seemed the X Factor would go ahead as normal in 2019, he seemed pretty sure that the 2018 line-up of Louis Tomlinson and Robbie and Ayda Williams would be back.
But since he revealed the two new versions of the show, Robbie and Ayda have said that although they’re big X Factor fans, they can’t make their schedules fit around it this year.
A quick update from Team Williams… it’s been a very busy year so far. Vegas has been incredible and we cannot wait for June and July to do it all again. I’ve got the massive @BSTHydePark show on July 14 and I’ve written the lyrics and music for the #RSCBoyInDress show with @guyachambers - opening on November 8. As well as all this we’ve got some very big announcements coming soon - but we can’t reveal all yet. Sadly though it’s impossible to do everything … and we’re gutted to tell you we won’t be able to return to The X Factor this year. We will, however, be working on projects with Simon going forward - and as huge fans of the show, we will still be tuning into The X Factor, voting and winding Simon up…x
Louis was a little more outspoken, telling The Sun’s Dan Wootton podcast that he wasn’t such a fan of the celebrity idea.
He said: "To be honest, I don't really know what the tail end of my year looks like anyway, but personally, I think it's about the public, you know what I mean? I think it should be about the public."
Simon won’t be short of replacements though, as stars have already started throwing their hats in the ring.
John Barrowman told Metro: “It’s one of those things where if I’m asked I’d do it, like anything, I’d do it at the drop of a hat as long as I know I’m going to have fun doing it.”
Loose Women panellist and former X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon told The Mirror: “That would be the ultimate dream job. I loved doing it and love being a part of it, so to be able to mentor and go through that experience again, but with somebody else, would be incredible.”
Former X Factor judge Dannii Minogue has also been mentioned as a potential mentor for the show.
What was The X Factor: Battle of the Stars?
If you think all this celebrity chat sounds familiar, that’s because a similar series ran in 2006 called The X Factor: Battle of the Stars.
There were three categories: ages 16-24 mentored by Sharon Osbourne, over 25s mentored by Louis Walsh, and Simon Cowell worked with the groups.
Sharon’s category included model Michelle Marsh, actress Nikki Sanderson and rugby player Matt Stevens, while Louis got actress Lucy Benjamin, nutritionist Gillian McKeith and DJ Chris Moyles.
The groups were duos Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, and James Hewitt with Rebecca Loos, and a band called The Chefs made up of Jean-Christophe Novelli, Aldo Zilli, Paul Rankin and Ross Burden.
EastEnder Lucy Benjamin (pictured above) was the show’s winner, but Simon didn’t exactly view the series as a triumphant success.
Just after it finished, he announced that Battle of the Stars was axed, describing it to The Sun as “pointless” and vowing “we are never going to do it again”. Never say never, Simon...
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Images: Rex, ITV