Gary Barlow to quit X Factor at end of current series

Gary Barlow There were gasps following Barlow's announcement

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Gary Barlow has confirmed he will leave X Factor at the end of the current series.

He had previously denied rumours he had made a decision to quit the ITV show.

But speaking on Saturday night's show he told his group Rough Copy: "I've been here for three years and I'm so glad that for my last year on the show I get to mentor you guys."

The Take That frontman will release his first solo album for 14 years in November.

Rumours had started circulating about his departure in August, after host Dermot O'Leary said the singer would leave the programme when the present series, the 10th, ended.

But speaking at the launch of the series itself at the end of that month, he said he had not made his mind up yet.

"In all honesty, I honestly don't know, it's too early," he said.

"Ask me about two weeks into the live shows and I'll give you an answer on that. But it's far too early."

As well as his solo album Barlow has also been working on the score for the stage version of Finding Neverland and a new Take That album, to be released next year.

Ratings drop

There is speculation that Simon Cowell could return to the show to replace him as a judge.

Speaking at the series launch he hinted he might return to The X Factor as a guest judge this year.

The singing show has suffered falling ratings since Cowell left two years ago, although he has remained hands-on behind the scenes.

But when asked about the possibility of his return in 2013, he told the BBC: "I wouldn't rule it out."

The ratings for Saturday's first live show were more than one million viewers down on the first live show last year.

It had an average of 8.1 million viewers and peaked at 9.5 million.

The same episode last year was watched by 9.2 million, with a peak of 10.3 million.

It left the show 1.7 million viewers behind the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing - also broadcast on Saturday evening - which had its highest audience of the series with 9.8 million viewers and a peak audience of 10.9 million.

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