On June 16, 2014, "The X Factor" U.K. stars of 2014 gathered for the year's first auditions in front of the judges — Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh. They held the auditions at Lancashire County Cricket Club in Manchester, England. "The X Factor" U.K. host Dermot O'Leary and "The Xtra Factor" host Sarah-Jane Crawford also attended the event.
The auditions marked the official return of Cole and Cowell to "The X Factor" U.K. judging panel. Cole was a judge on the show from 2008 to 2010. Then, in 2011, she joined Cowell on "The X Factor" U.S. judging panel, but Cole was fired after just a few weeks on the job. For years after that, Cole said she would never work with Cowell again, but she changed her mind, and signed on to rejoin "The X Factor" U.K. in 2014. On Feb. 7, 2014, the same day that Fox announced that "The X Factor" U.S. was cancelled, Cowell announced he was going back to being a judge on "The X Factor" U.K.
Mel B (whose real name is Melanie Brown) was a guest judge on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2012. In 2014, she is also a judge on "America's Got Talent" and "The Voice Kids" Australia. Prior to joining "America's Got Talent" in 2013, Mel B (also known as Scary Spice of the Spice Girls) was a judge on "The X Factor" Australia in 2011 and 2012.
Cowell, who created "The X Factor" franchise in 2004, was a judge on the "The X Factor" U.K. from 2004 to 2010, and then a judge on "The X Factor" U.S. from 2011 to 2013. Walsh has been a judge on "The X Factor" U.K. since its 2004 debut.
At the auditions in Manchester, Cowell commented to the Manchester Evening News about his return to the show: "It's what, four or five years since I did it last time, so yeah I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be an interesting day as I haven't worked with this lot as a whole." And he had this to say about working with Cole again: "We'll see, it will be good."
In 2013, "The X Factor" U.K. went back to holding auditions in front of the judges in a room that is not open to the public, which was a format the show had from its 2004 launch until 2008. From 2009 to 2012, the show's auditions in front of the judges were held at arenas in events that were free and open to the public.
Since the Manchester auditions on June 16, 2014 were not open to the public, there isn't much information available yet on how the auditions went. However, the Manchester Evening News got some comments from some of the judges before they went into the auditions.
Mel B said, "It's really exciting, I'm from up north, I'm from Leeds, so it's great to be kicking it all off here in Manchester. It's very exciting. Up north they're very talented so bring on the northern talent. I don't think it can get any better, 'The X Factor' is a great show so I'm just so glad to be a part of it. What am I going to bring to it? You'll have to wait and see! I think the judges are great, Cheryl is great, Simon is great, Louis is crazy but great, so it's going to be fun."
The fashions of the female "X Factor" stars are always held up to scrutiny. An online poll on the Manchester Evening News website asked readers who was the best-dressed at the Manchester auditions: Cole, Mel B or Crawford? Cole won by a landslide, with about 61 percent of the votes, followed by Mel B (about 23 percent) and Crawford (16 percent), as of the end of the day on June 16, 2014.