Sharon Osbourne is set to return to The X Factor, it has been confirmed.

ITV has announced that this year's judging panel will consist of Osbourne, Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger.

Osbourne appeared on the show's first four series between 2004 and 2007.

Cowell joked of the news: "Three words I never thought I'd say... welcome back Sharon!"

Tulisa Contostavlos yesterday (May 21) confirmed that she was leaving the show.

Take That star Barlow said that he believes the new series will be the "best yet".

He commented: "To have a winner like James Arthur last year was a big game changer; I really hope that his authenticity and credibility will attract acts of a similar talent this series and I'm very excited about that."

The judges' auditions will start on June 4 in Glasgow before visiting Birmingham, Manchester, London and Cardiff. There will be a second stage of judges' arena auditions in July.