Dawn French 'joins the judging panel for Simon Cowell's new ITV singing competition Walk The Line'


Dawn French is reportedly set to join the judging panel of Simon Cowell’s new ITV singing competition after the music mogul quit the show.

Comedian Dawn, 64, is said to have signed to appear alongside Gary Barlow, 50, Craig David, 40, and Mabel, 25, on Walk The Line, which will see singers compete for a £500,000 prize.

Funnywoman Dawn is said to have been enlisted due to her extensive show business experience after Simon, 62, decided against appearing on the series himself.

Show business legend: Dawn French, 64, is reportedly set to join the judging panel of Simon Cowell's new ITV singing competition Walk The Line after the music mogul quit the show

Show business legend: Dawn French, 64, is reportedly set to join the judging panel of Simon Cowell’s new ITV singing competition Walk The Line after the music mogul quit the show

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.’

Changing times: Funnywoman Dawn is said to have been enlisted due to her extensive show business experience after Simon, 62, decided against appearing on the series himself

Changing times: Funnywoman Dawn is said to have been enlisted due to her extensive show business experience after Simon, 62, decided against appearing on the series himself

MailOnline has contacted ITV and a representative for Dawn for comment.

The news comes after Gary reportedly ‘ended his decade-long feud’ with Simon before the start of the show following rumours of ructions between the duo.  

According to The Mirror on Tuesday, Simon cleared the air with the former Take That star over the weekend with their ‘strained relationship’ a thing of the past.

The report comes after it was announced that Simon was replaced by Gary on Walk The Line, with Simon branding him ‘the best man for the job’.  

Gary has previously taken a series of swipes at Simon, including angry responses to claims Simon branded him ‘wooden’ during his stint on The X Factor and even making accusations about his dressing room being ‘bugged’ on the show. 

Speaking about their renewed relationship, an insider said: ‘It was a really constructive and great conversation between both men who have moved on and are excited for the future. It’s all water under the bridge now’.  

It has long been reported that pair have a ‘notoriously strained relationship’ that stemmed from when Gary replaced Simon as a judge on the US version of the X Factor in 2011. 

'It's water under the bridge': Gary Barlow (left) has reportedly 'ended his decade-long feud' with Simon (right) after the former Take That star replaced him on Walk The Line

‘It’s water under the bridge’: Gary Barlow (left) has reportedly ‘ended his decade-long feud’ with Simon (right) after the former Take That star replaced him on Walk The Line

The source also alleged that Gary was livid over comments made in Tom Bower’s biography on Simon Cowell, where the music mogul reportedly told Tom how Gary’s performance on the X Factor was ‘wooden’.   

Tom also wrote in the Sweet Revenge biography how Simon was none too happy about Gary receiving an OBE in 2012. 

In 2017, reports also surfaced that Gary faced legal action from Simon – with the Syco owner reportedly consulting lawyers over fears Gary’s new show Let It Shine would infringe his rights.  

After releasing solo album Since I Saw You Last in 2014, Gary returned to TV to hunt for young, theatre talent on Let It Shine, alongside Dannii Minogue and Martin Kemp. 

Fearing the series was too similar to the X Factor, Simon was said to have put a team of staff on standby to monitor Gary’s eight-week series.

However at the time, Gary was quick to dispel these rumours – revealing to The Mirror that he had not received any legal documents and was simply focusing on his new project, which he believed to be completely different.  

Meanwhile, earlier this week Simon stepped down from the judging panel of upcoming ITV musical game show Walk The Line, with Gary as his replacement.

The music boss will now be replaced by Gary, someone he’s confident ‘will do a fantastic job.’ 

The anticipated six-part series is set to air later this year and will present an opportunity for musical variety acts to win a life-changing sum of money. 

Change-up: It was announced this week that Simon is stepping down from Walk The Line and will be replaced by Gary. The music mogul is pictured April 2020

Change-up: It was announced this week that Simon is stepping down from Walk The Line and will be replaced by Gary. The music mogul is pictured April 2020 

The show was set to represent Simon’s return to primetime TV judging after the plug was pulled on The X Factor earlier this year – but the star has confirmed his role will be limited to behind the camera. 

According to reports in The Sun, Simon’s decision to step down comes with hopes he will be able to spend more time with his partner Lauren Silverman and their seven-year-old son Eric.  

Despite not appearing onscreen – a contrast to what UK and US audiences have become accustomed to over the past two decades – Simon will take on the role of executive producer. 

Family first: According to reports in The Sun, Simon's decision to step down comes with hopes he will be able to spend more time with his partner Lauren Silverman and son Eric

Family first: According to reports in The Sun, Simon’s decision to step down comes with hopes he will be able to spend more time with his partner Lauren Silverman and son Eric

The entrepreneur told the publication: ‘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.’ 

Simon previously made headlines back in August last year when he was involved in a electric bike accident at his Malibu home which resulted in him breaking his back. 

The incident may have contributed to his decision to step back on Walk The Line. 

Gary said in an official statement that he was ‘so excited to be involved.’      

Recovering: In August 2020, Simon was involved in a electric bike accident at his Malibu home which resulted in him breaking his back

Recovering: In August 2020, Simon was involved in a electric bike accident at his Malibu home which resulted in him breaking his back

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