x Factor bosses have drafted in Geri Halliwell as a temporary judge for this year’s show, two years after she was panned for a similar appearance.
Producers had hoped to find a permanent replacement for axed Kelly Rowland in time for Wednesday’s first auditions in Liverpool, but have failed to sign an A-list star and called Geri as a stand-in.
And one insider said: “If Geri Haliwell was really suitable, they’d have signed her permanently. Really this is a shambles.
“The X Factor is supposed to be the biggest show on British television and it should have been sorted months ago.”
Former judge Dannii Minogue had been expected to return to the panel but talks broke down in the final stages after she allegedly demanded a £5 million deal to sign up.
But Geri’s appearance alongside permanent judges Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh will surprise fans, after she was booed when standing in for the 2010 auditions in Glasgow because Dannii was heavily pregnant.
The 39-year-old former Spice Girl was labelled “awful” by some viewers while others wrote online that she “isn’t making sense”.
At one stage she reportedly “stormed off” from the set, with a fan posting online: “Geri was awful. After one audition she left the judges table before being followed by Simon.
“Cheryl and Louis looked bemused while the warm up guy announced that we were having an early break.
“It wasn’t until a few auditions in she really started to irritate. She also gave irrelevant comments.”
Fans are even said to have started chanting for judge Dannii Minogue to return.
But today show insiders at The X Factor insisted the opinionated and outspoken pop star would be a perfect addition to the panel while bosses continue to seek a full-time judge.
One senior production source said: “Geri certainly isn’t afraid to speak her mind and that’s exactly what the show needs.
“She was in the Spice Girls, one of the biggest bands in pop history, so she knows exactly what it takes to succeed in this industry.
“She’s a tough cookie and has dealt with everything the music business has thrown at her, so she’s well qualified to spot contestants who have the talent and the personality to make it.
“It will be interesting to see what she makes of the talent in Liverpool – and no doubt her feisty personality will make for some brilliant television.”
Bosses are in search of a female judge, after last year’s American panellist Kelly Rowland was axed from the show.
The Destiny’s Child singer was axed when producers decided she was not fully committed to the show and was not connecting well enough with the British TV audience.
And bosses had expected former star Dannii Minogue would return up until last Thursday, when it was revealed talks had broken down.
The lack of a permanent judge to join the panel is also said to be worrying ITV’s most senior executives, who are desperate to secure a big star for their most successful show.
Show boss Simon Cowell’s attempts to control the show have previously caused rows between the media mogul and the broadcaster.
Biographer Tom Bower, who spent a year shadowing Cowell for a recent book, revealed: “What this is about is a power struggle for who controls ITV’s most popular programme.”