Scottish rugby star confirmed among acts joining new celebrity X Factor

Former Scotland international Thom Evans will join fellow pros Levi Davis and Ben Foden as act Try Star on the new series of the X Factor. Photo: Syco / PA Wire
Former Scotland international Thom Evans will join fellow pros Levi Davis and Ben Foden as act Try Star on the new series of the X Factor. Photo: Syco / PA Wire
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A former Scottish rugby pro joins ballroom dancer Brendan Cole and journalist Martin Bashir among the acts on Simon Cowell's revamped celebrity X Factor.

Thom Evans - who was capped 10 times for Scotland - retired early after sustaining a serious neck injury.

Thom Evans rugby career was ended when he sustained a serious neck injury. Picture: JPI Media

Thom Evans rugby career was ended when he sustained a serious neck injury. Picture: JPI Media

Now Evans is joining fellow former pros Ben Foden and Levi Davis to make up the group Try Star.

Other contestants include The Chase star Jenny Ryan, Coronation Street star Victoria Ekanoye and Glee actor Kevin McHale.

READ MORE: Thom Evans interview: Former Scotland international on why he finds it hard to watch rugby
Simon Cowell has said that it was "so obvious" that The X Factor needed to be revamped featuring a cast of celebrities.

Martin Bashir, Ricki Lake, Brendan Cole and several Love Islanders are among the 15 acts competing to win a record deal on the new edition of the hit ITV show.

The latest series of The X Factor saw overnight audience figures plummet to some of their lowest in its 15-year history while rival show Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One continued to flourish.

Cowell, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Monday, said the franchise risked stagnating if it did not reinvent itself.

He said: "I think change in any aspect is good, but I was saying to someone the other day, 'I've signed Westlife, I've signed Five, Il Divo, One Direction, Little Mix. They're all groups, but they're all different'.

"Sometimes you've got to take a break of at least a year, two years, between signing one kind of group and then launching another.

"It's the same with The X Factor. You can't just keep making the same show that it was 14 years ago and expect it to be the same show today.

"You've got to take a step back for a little while."

READ MORE: Interview: Max and Thom Evans - Passing it on
Cowell also revealed that he kept himself in the dark about the line-up until the night of the performances.

He said: "It just felt so obvious to do a celebrity version. The only condition was I couldn't know who was going to be on it.

"I said to the team, 'You've got to find some acts who you believe can sell records off the back of this, because if you don't do that it won't work.'

"So, that was the deal and we stuck to it. I swear to God I didn't have a clue who any of the acts were.

"I did walk away thinking, 'If we're smart, we have artists here who could actually sell records off the back of this'. So, I thought that was fun and very exciting for the show.'"

Alongside Cowell, music manager Louis Walsh and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger are also returning to judge on The X Factor: Celebrity, while Dermot O'Leary returns as host.

Scherzinger, whose last stint as judge ended in 2017, said she had no concerns about making a return.

"Simon called me personally and that always means a lot," she said.

"We had a few discussions about what was going to happen and that was it really.

"I didn't have any concerns about coming back, it's in my blood to do this."

Irish entertainment manager Walsh said that Cowell was like a new person, after the music mogul's recent dramatic weight loss.

He said: "Simon's like a new person. He's funny, he's looking great, and I love Nicole. The three of us just sit there, we have fun."

He added: "The X Factor, and he's still hungry for the business. He looks brilliant and as soon as he walks into the room, I start laughing. I don't know why. We laugh a lot."

The new edition of the show will see celebrities perform for renowned record producers including David Foster and Diane Warren at Cowell's home in Malibu, California.

Reality stars Samira Mighty, Zara McDermott, Wes Nelson and Eyal Booker will form The Islanders.

The X Factor: Celebrity will debut on ITV on October 12.