The X Factor returned to televisions screens last night with a bang pulling in an average of 10.2 million viewers.

One its highest point, the show was watched by more than 11 million people, capturing half the total television audience.

The first episode of last year's series drew 9.5 million viewers, with the final epsidoe - which saw Leon Jackson win - gaining an audience of 12 million.

The new series also saw the debut of new judge, Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Cole, who replaces Sharon Osbourne after she allegedly made huge wage demands to continue to appear on the show.

In an interview with the Radio Times earlier this month, judge Danni Minogue, who joined the show last year revealed that she had a difficult relationship with Osbourne.

"We weren't friends," said Minogue, "We weren't always fighting, but Sharon made it clear that she didn't like me, so she won't be missed. Not by me."

She added that the new line-up "works brilliantly", dismissing suggestions that there would be friction between her and Cole.

In the opening show of the talent search show, Cole was seen leaving the set when a friend from Popstars: The Rivals auditioned, saying it would be "biased" and "weird".

Cole was a contestant on the show in 2002 and was chosen to become a member of Girls Aloud.

The show contained a series of auditions of varying quality, with duo Dreamtime branded "one of the worst acts I've had on this show" by Cowell.

17/08/2008 14:01:18