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Union J's Josh Cuthbert rules out X Factor-style auditions for new band member

Published 05/03/2016

Josh Cuthbert, who said George Shelley's exit was
Josh Cuthbert, who said George Shelley's exit was "a mutual decision"

Union J's Josh Cuthbert has ruled out an X Factor-style audition process as a way of replacing former band member George Shelley.

The runner-up of ITV's I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! had been unable to fully commit to the pop group after returning from the jungle series in December.

When news about Shelley's departure broke on Friday, it was initially claimed the band had "kicked him out".

But Cuthbert, 23, set the record straight. He told BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast's Eleanor Oldroyd that Shelley's exit was "a mutual decision".

"He wanted to commit to other things and he didn't have the time to do it and we support him fully, we're backing him all the way."

The Union J star added: "There will be a new member added in the next few weeks/months. Keep your eyes peeled and we'll be doing the third album and going on tour again and going to LA and all that stuff - it's exciting."

However, Cuthbert admitted the band are not yet sure how they will recruit Shelley's replacement. He mentioned a "privately behind closed doors" selection and referred to a "big public kind of search".

The Berkshire singer added: "We don't know how to play it yet, it's between management which is kind of being decided next week."

He appeared to rule out an X Factor-style process, which is how Union J were formed in the first place.

"No. We've done that. Enough auditions," he said when Oldroyd asked if they would pursue that route.

"I don't know what we'll do, to be honest. We've already got a few boys in mind and they're brilliant."

He stressed the parting of the ways is an amicable one.

"We wish George all the best, like he does with us, and it's all happy, happy, happy," Cuthbert said. "There was no malicious kind of feelings or anything like that - it's good."

Originally a trio called Triple J, which consisted of Cuthbert, JJ Hamblett and Jaymi Hensley, Shelley was later added to the group on the ninth series of Simon Cowell's ITV show in 2012.

Renamed Union J, the band finished in fourth place.

Shelley, 22, recently "came out" to fans after leaving the jungle and discussed his attraction to both men and women in a video posted online.

His focus is now said to be on his broadcasting and acting career.

This includes being a "regular part" of the Capital FM Breakfast Show and accepting assignments, such as hosting the Brits Red Carpet Live or filming parts in TV shows like BBC Three's Murder In Successville.

Cuthbert, who played football as a youngster, spoke to BBC Radio 5 live's Breakfast programme after finishing 12 hours on the Sport Relief Battle of the Five-a-Sides football pitch.

Participants are hoping to raise as much money as possible for Sport Relief and, as part of its ongoing support for the cause, the Premier League has committed to match donations from the public.

Since 2002, Sport Relief has raised over £262 million. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help people living tough lives, across the UK and the world's poorest communities.

::To support the players and to donate £5 to Sport Relief the public can text FIVE to 70005 or visit http://sportrelief.com/

:: BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast is broadcast on Saturdays from 6am to 9am

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