Northamptonshire had the X Factor when a stately home near Kettering hosted Cheryl Cole’s return to the show as she joined Gary Barlow for judges’ houses.
Boughton House was selected as the venue for Cole’s surprise comeback to the show over the weekend.
She joined the Take That star on Saturday, September 8, to mentor contestants in the over-25s category. News broke of her return on Saturday morning, just hours before she arrived at Boughton House.
Her arrival was surrounded by secrecy. Contestants had their phones hidden from them on arrival on Friday so they would not find out about her being the guest judge.
As the A-listers flew in to Boughton House she had to be hidden under a tablecloth borrowed from the home’s owner, the Duke of Buccleuch, so that the contestants wouldn’t see her sitting next to Mr Barlow as the helicopter landed in the lakeside gardens.
The Telegraph’s website was one of the first publications to break the news that the popular show was being filmed at Boughton House.
Our exclusive pictures show filming in action at the venue, which has also been the setting for the upcoming Hollywood film version of Les Miserables, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Sacha Baron Cohen, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried.
Mr Barlow is believed to have persuaded Ms Cole to go back on the show after they performed together at the Queen’s Jubilee concert.
The plans were kept so secret that Mr Barlow went to the extent of making people believe that Robbie Williams would be the surprise mentor, and he is also reported to have attempted to conceal his mentor choice from X Factor boss Simon Cowell.
It was the first time the Geordie star has featured on the show since her departure from the US version.
After the news of her return spread, Simon Cowell tweeted “Welcome back” to Cheryl Cole.
Ms Cole also took to Twitter to confirm her involvement, saying: “It’s true, anything for @GBarlowOfficial.”
Mr Barlow later expressed his delight at having the singer on the show, saying: “Thank you @CherylCole for all your help this weekend. The contestants and I loved having you there.”
Host Dermot O’Leary and Xtra Factor host Caroline Flack are also thought to have been at Boughton House for filming.