Simon Cowell ‘hires Dawn French as judge’ after stepping back from new ITV role

Simon Cowell has reportedly hired Dawn French for his all star judging panel of his upcoming show Walk The Line.

The Vicar Of Dibley star, 64, will take a seat next to musical icons such as Gary Barlow, Craig David and others – with Simon taking a a step back from the limelight to focus on his family.

Ex-Radio One presenter and Celebrity Juice star Maya Jama has also been cast to take on the hosting duties.

Dawn's role comes as quite a shock given the new series will focus on finding singing talent who will battle it out for a chance of winning £500,000.

While some may have been left wondering about Dawn's hire it really isn't unusual for Simon to add a comedy act on-board to get the crowd laughing.

A source told The Sun: "The comedian may seem like a surprising choice for a judge on a contest that’s all about music . . . until you realise she’s always had a crush on her new boss.

"Simon is also partial to having a comic on his panels to bring some laughs, with David Walliams and Michael McIntyre previously judges on Britain's Got Talent.

"But she also comes with over 40 years of experience in showbiz, starring in sitcoms, sketch shows, films and on the West End. So she knows how to spot talent."

Meanwhile, Simon also stunned the entire nation when he revealed he would be taking a step back from his role in front of the camera – announcing that he wouldn't be joining the panel of Walk The Line.

It was revealed that he'd instead put to bed a decade-long feud with Take That star Gary Barlow who would take over his lead-judge role on the programme.

Simon said: "This is a situation where I have decided it is right for me to focus on my role as the Creator and Producer as we build up to the hugely exciting launch.

"Gary’s musical pedigree is second to none – and we have known each other a long time now – so I am delighted he is picking up the baton for me for the first series of Walk The Line. I know he will do a fantastic job."

An insider later let slip that the business mogul had quit his role because he wanted to spend more time with his 44-year-old girlfriend Lauren Silverman and seven-year-old son Eric.

The source told The Sun: "Given all the upheavals of the past year or so, what with lockdown and his health, he’s decided now is not the time to be front of camera.

"He's just finished an exceptionally busy period filming which saw him spending an extended period of time away from home, so he also wants to devote more time to his family in the coming weeks."

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