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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 17:58 GMT
Walsh to step down from X Factor
Louis Walsh, Kate Thornton and Simon Cowell
The X Factor won a prize at the National Television Awards in 2006
Music mogul Louis Walsh will no longer act as a judge in the next series of The X Factor, ITV has announced.

The Irishman will continue to manage acts off-screen, while two new judges will join regulars Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne.

The show's host Kate Thornton is also being replaced and is moving on to present new programmes with ITV.

A new category will be introduced to the show's revamped format, while the age limit will also be lowered.

Walsh said he would "focus my energy on my day job as an artist manager," including the relaunch of Boyzone.

"I am also looking forward to continuing my work with Simon and The X Factor team managing the stars from this year's series," he added.

'New dimension'

Walsh, who also manages chart-topping boy band Westlife, steered Shayne Ward to a victory in the second series, and mentored series one runners-up G4.

In the most recent series, won by Simon Cowell's protegee Leona Lewis, Walsh took charge of the groups category and failed to steer any of his acts into the final stages.

Thornton, who has hosted the ITV show for three years, is in line to present Sir Elton John's 60th birthday celebrations from New York, and is already in talks about another new project.

Paul Jackson, ITV's director of entertainment, said: "We are always looking at ways of keeping the format as fresh and exciting as ever. Having an extra judge and additional category will give the show a whole new dimension."

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