The X Factor is a British television music competition to find new singing talent. The ninth series began airing on ITV on 18 August 2012. Before the start of the auditions process it was confirmed that Louis Walsh, Gary Barlow and Tulisa Contostavlos would return to the judging panel. Nicole Scherzinger was confirmed as the fourth permanent judge after Geri Halliwell, Leona Lewis, Rita Ora, Melanie Brown, Anastacia and Scherzinger herself stood in as guest judges for the vacant position left by Kelly Rowland. Dermot O'Leary will return as host on ITV, whilst Caroline Flack and Olly Murs will return to host The Xtra Factor on ITV2.
Auditions for the series took place between 23 May and 25 June 2012, in Liverpool, London, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle and Cardiff. Bootcamp took place in Liverpool for three days, between 19 July and 22 July. The final will be held at Manchester Central, the first time it has taken place outside London.
The trailer for the series premiered on 30 July, featuring former contestants Alexandra Burke, JLS, One Direction, Little Mix, Lewis and Murs.
On 17 April 2012, it was confirmed that Gary Barlow would return to the judging panel, and on 3 May it was announced that Louis Walsh would also return for his ninth year as a judge. Tulisa Contostavlos was also confirmed to be returning, but Kelly Rowland did not return due to other commitments. Nicole Scherzinger was announced as the fourth judge on 15 June 2012, permanently filling the fourth seat from the Newcastle auditions onwards. Individuals rumoured to be permanently replacing Rowland included Geri Halliwell, Alesha Dixon, and Rochelle Wiseman and Frankie Sandford. Former judges Sharon Osbourne and Dannii Minogue, as well as Katy Perry and Rihanna, are said to have turned down the role. As a fourth permanent judge was not found in time for the start of the auditions, guest judging roles were brought in. They were filled by Halliwell, series 3 winner Leona Lewis, Rita Ora, Scherzinger, Melanie Brown and Anastacia.
Dermot O'Leary returned to present the main show on ITV, while Caroline Flack and Olly Murs will return to co-present companion show The Xtra Factor on ITV2, but Murs will only be present during the live shows as he is on tour. In Murs' absence, Flack was joined by guest presenters such as Jedward and JLS. Brian Friedman, who left as creative director on the show in 2010, will return this year. It has also been reported that Natalya Nair, head of make-up, has not had her contract renewed.
The live shows are due to start on 6 October 2012. The live final will take place in Manchester in December, at Manchester Central. It is the first time the final has been hosted outside of London. On 26 August, it was reported that contestants will be able to perform their own material during the live shows, after original songs proved to be popular with the crowds during the audition stages.
On 18 and 19 August 2012, it was reported that Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins had been signed up to be guest mentors on one of the live shows, for an Olympics-themed episode during the live shows. However, on 20 August, Wiggins and Hoy denied the report. Ennis stated the same day on Lorraine that she had not been approached, but that she would definitely be interested in mentoring. On 27 August, it was reported that Tom Daley was being lined up for a role in the live shows as well.
The first results show will feature performances from series 3 winner Leona Lewis and Ne-Yo, with the second featuring performances from Taylor Swift and 2010 runner-up Rebecca Ferguson. Other acts reported to be performing during the live shows, but not confirmed, include judges Contostavlos, Barlow and Scherzinger, Pink, One Direction, The Wanted, Robbie Williams, JLS, Little Mix, Olly Murs, Rita Ora, Cheryl Cole, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Jessie J, Usher and Adele.