Singer Cheryl Cole 'Dropped By US X Factor'

Cheryl Cole has been replaced as a judge on the new US version of The X Factor.

An insider said the singer is to be replaced as judge by former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.

Showbiz website TMZ earlier claimed the Girls Aloud star was axed from the show because her Geordie accent was "too thick".

She was originally due to be on the panel alongside veteran US singer Paula Abdul, X Factor supremo Simon Cowell and respected former record boss LA Reid.

Cole, 27, has not responded to claims she was fired. Her website only says auditions are due to be held in Dallas, Texas later today.

The much-hyped US show created by Cowell is the highlight of Fox's autumn TV schedule and offers an unprecedented $5m (£3.5m) prize to the winner.

An insider told Us Weekly : "It's true. She isn't on the show anymore. Everyone is gobsmacked. This came out of nowhere.

"She had already been tested countless times. Simon had nothing to do with it. This is the network's doing."

Scherzinger, 32, was originally lined up to co-present the programme, which makes its debut in September, with Welsh TV host Steve Jones.

But Cole had already sat on the judging panel for auditions around the US even though there were concerns about contestants and audiences not being able to follow her.

On the first day of auditions on May 10 the 27-year-old insisted Americans were able to understand what she was saying.

"I've been here a lot, I've got a lot of American friends and we have the odd moments where they're like 'What? - What did that mean?' - you know, a phrase," she said.

"But I think that it's going to be something that people get used to. And I'm proud of my accent."

Her place on the panel had only been confirmed by Cowell a week earlier.

Voice coach Maria Rivington had told Sky News that the singer's accent was already softened but Cole would need to be careful using certain words in the US.

A survey in Britain previously found the Geordie accent was regarded as the coolest regional twang , possibly thanks to Cole.

When Cowell was asked about the singer's accent he joked that she could mime to someone else's voice to get round any problems.

According to The Sun , Cole decided to return to Britain because she is homesick.

Sky News entertainment editor Jon Bennett doubts the reports of Cole leaving the show are part of an orchestrated PR campaign to drum up publicity.

"It's easy to see why cynics can argue this is simply yet another publicity stunt.

"This week has seen the finale of American Idol, the main rival to X Factor, so it's been generating a lot of headlines in America," Bennett said.

Bennett suspects a lack of chemistry between Cole and the hugely popular Abdul is the core problem on the show.

"It seems to me more likely that Cole's face didn't fit. Shots of Cheryl at public appearances with fellow judge Paula Abdul have seemed to show an uneasy relationship between the pair," Bennett said.

"I'd bet that this was far more important than any issues over Cheryl's accent or her supposed homesickness."