Spencer Sutherland has become the first contestant to leave The X Factor as the singing competition's live show instalment returned with a rebooted format and an absent Simon Cowell.

The American-born singer exited the show after receiving the lowest number of public votes following performances from eight of the sixteen finalists.

Sharon Osbourne's girls took on Louis Walsh's boys under the Express Yourself theme, with Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger's acts not in action until Sunday night.

Spencer gives it maximum smoulder 

It means a second act will be sent packing on Sunday, while the top-rated performers from each evening via the public vote will perform a sing-off in a bid to win a prize.

On Saturday that was Grace Davies, who has since been cut to 2/1 favourite to take the X Factor crown.

Simon Cowell was missing from the judging panel a day after he was rushed to hospital when he fell down the stairs in his London home.

Grace Davies

Addressing his absence at the beginning of the show, host Dermot O'Leary said: "You might have spotted one judge is missing.

"As you may have heard, Simon was taken to hospital yesterday. But he is doing fine, he is back home now, he is watching the show."

"Get well soon boss, we hope to see you fighting fit very soon," he added.

Former judge and pop star Cheryl was among those in the audience as she cheered on One Direction star Liam Payne, who was making his debut as a solo artist on the stage which launched his career.

She also offered a message to Cowell, telling him: "First of all I really miss you, Simon, I know you'll be watching at home, you're very, very missed and we love you."

The judge was rushed to hospital on Friday after he took the tumble in his London home, reportedly attempting to go downstairs to get some boiled milk.

He was photographed flashing a "thumbs up" when he returned home hours later.

Si and Chazza in happier times 

Sunday night will see the overs and the groups perform, with Talia Dean, 32, and duo Jack & Joel returning in their respective categories as part of the public vote Wildcard twist.

The X Factor returns at 7.00pm on TV3 and ITV on Sunday night.