2011 UK X Factor judges officially announced

2011 UK X Factor judges are Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos, Louis Walsh and Kelly Rowland

After Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole’s departure from the UK X Factor‘s judging panel at the conclusion of last season there has been a whirlwind of rumored replacements that has included such names as Frankie Sandford, Alesha Dixon and Danni Minogue – all of which have since announced that other obligations prevented them from signing on.

Today ITV made an official announcement via press release ending speculation once and for all! The 2011 UK X Factor judging panel will consist of (in the photo above, clockwise from top left) Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos, Louis Walsh and Kelly Rowland.

Here is the full press release from ITV:

The X Factor 2011 judging panel announced.

**Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos, Kelly Rowland, Louis Walsh**

ITV and the producers of The X Factor, talkbackThames and Syco, today announced the 2011 judging panel line-up for the nation’s biggest television show.

Gary Barlow – One of Britain’s most successful singer songwriters and a member of one of the biggest pop groups of all time, Take That, Gary has amassed twelve UK No. 1 hits and is a five times recipient of the Ivor Novello award for songwriting.

Tulisa Contostavlos – The lead singer of one of the most successful urban British hip hop group, N-Dubz. Tulisa has had eight top 40 hits, a sell-out tour, album sales of over 1.2 million and has won four MOBO awards.

Kelly Rowland – A founder member of one of the most successful girl groups of all time, Destiny’s Child, who sold over 60 million records; Kelly has won a Grammy award as a solo artist and established herself as a global star.

Louis Walsh – Mastermind of the careers of the multi-million selling pop groups, Boyzone and Westlife .

ITV’s Director of Television, Peter Fincham, said: “The X Factor is more than just television show: it’s by far the nation’s biggest platform for emerging talent and I’m delighted to be confirming a line up of judges who have experience right across the music business to pick the stars of the future. As multi-million selling artists, songwriters and pop masterminds, Gary, Tulisa, Kelly and Louis have huge breadth of appeal with our audience and the ability to engage both the UK’s next generation of music talent as well as ITV’s viewers.”

Simon Cowell said: “These four are totally up for it, each of them bring a different attitude. They have had a ton of hits between them and they are all committed to finding a star. I have a feeling Louis and Tulisa will have slightly different points of view as to what the next star should look and sound like!”

Director of Entertainment, talkbackThames, Richard Holloway said: “Each year we aim to grow and evolve the show. This year will be no different. All I can say is expect the unexpected!”

Gary Barlow said: “I’m extremely excited about working on The X Factor. I’ve always been a fan of the show and always enjoyed performing on it too. My one goal is to find a global super star. If I don’t find one I won’t have done my job.”

Tulisa Contostavlos said: “I’m so excited to be the joining The X Factor and want to bring something fresh and new to the panel. I’m not going to be afraid to speak my mind and mix things up a little. I am hoping to find some hot new talent and mentor a winning category. It is also going to be great to get to know and work alongside the other Judges. Let the fireworks begin!”

Kelly Rowland said: “I am so excited to join The X Factor UK and be able to spend time in one of my favourite places in the world. The music coming out of the UK right now is incredible with artists like Adele, Jessie J and James Blake, so I’m confident this season of The X Factor will give me opportunity to hear a few diamonds in the rough. Being a judge is never easy, but I promise to be as sternly honest as I can and also encourage everyone who crosses the stage. I can’t wait to meet the world’s next superstar!”

Louis Walsh said: “I’m delighted to back for my eighth series of The X Factor, it’s my favourite job in the world and I’m really excited this year to work with Gary Barlow and the rest of the new panel. I’m the last original judge standing and I’m determined to find an act that can win this year and show the others how it’s done!”

The new panel begin their quest to uncover the very best in singing talent with the first X Factor audition in Birmingham on June 1st, continuing to Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff, London and Liverpool.

The X Factor is the UK’s most watched television series with a massive 19.4 million people tuning in to the 2010 final. The series returns to ITV1, ITV2 and itv.com later in the summer, 2011.

Photos: WENN.com