Simon Cowell steps away from television after two decades as reality-show mogul

He wants to spend more time with his family, but says he will remain creator and producer on new show 'Walk The Line'

CARDIFF, WALES - JANUARY 16:  Simon Cowell arrives for the 1st day of judges auditions for 'Britain's Got Talent' at Millenium Centre on January 16, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Simon Cowell is to take a step back from television to spend more time with his family.

The reality television mogul, who has been the lead judge on the shows The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent for close to two decades, was due to be the judge on new UK talent show Walk The Line, but he will now be replaced by Gary Barlow.

However, Cowell, 62, will still be closely involved with the show behind the scenes.

"This is a situation where I have decided it is right for me to focus on my role as the creator and producer as we build up to the hugely exciting launch,” he said.

“Gary’s musical pedigree is second to none – and we have known each other a long time now – so I am delighted he is picking up the baton for me for the first series of Walk The Line. I know he will do a fantastic job.”

The former Take That frontman previously worked with Cowell on The X Factor.

“When Simon calls it’s usually with something fairly extraordinary,” Barlow said. “I’m so excited to be involved in a brand new TV show, and of course my favourite part of Walk the Line is discovering new talent.”

Broadcaster ITV said: “We are delighted that Gary has decided to join the Walk The Line family and we understand and support Simon’s decision to focus on his role as producer and creator for this debut series.”

The announcement comes 15 months after Cowell was involved in a serious accident on an electric bike that required him to have critical back surgery and he came close to being paralysed.

Following the accident, he was replaced as a judge on America’s Got Talent, and kept a largely low profile as he recovered at his home in Los Angeles.

Cowell now wants to dedicate more time to his partner, Lauren Silverman, and son Eric, 7.

Throughout his career, he has been responsible for discovering and signing the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, James Arthur and Leona Lewis, as well as forming bands including One Direction, Little Mix and Girls Aloud.

Updated: November 1st 2021, 11:03 AM