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‘X Factor’ bosses saw ratings plunge by 3.4 million as the new series began, last weekend.

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Judges Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh, Tulisa Contostavlos and Nicole Scherzinger failed to pull in the audience ratings.

Instead they sunk to the lowest ebb for an opening episode since 2006.

An average of 8.1 million people tuned in - down by a third on last year.

The alarming dive had show chiefs scrambling for explanations - blaming the slump on weather conditions.

“The X Factor launched on the hottest day of the year, and its audience was still over double that of the next nearest programme. We have a great series ahead, with some fantastic talent to look forward to.”

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