Simon Cowell shuns X Factor spotlight after mother's death
Simon Cowell maintained a low profile at today's X-Factor auditions, again avoiding the spotlight following his mother's death.
He had been expected to make his first appearance on the red carpet alongside fellow judges to kick off the second day of auditions at Wembley Arena in London.
But a last-minute change of plans saw Cowell make a more discreet entrance than usual.
Auditions in Manchester, due to take place last Monday, were cancelled after he received news of the death of his mother, Julie, 89.
When auditions did begin two days later, he again chose to avoid the press and crowds of fans who had lined the red carpet.
But fellow judge and Radio One presenter Nick Grimshaw said Cowell was coping well following the sad news.
"He's been amazing. He's been so professional."
He added: "He's been hilarious. He's great to be around."
Cowell tweeted a tribute to his "very special" mother last week and thanked all those who had sent messages of sympathy.
He said: "My family lost someone very special on Sunday. My Mum. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the kind messages received. Thank you. X"
Mrs Cowell was the mother of four boys - Nicholas, Simon, Tony and Michael - and stepmother to John and June.
A family statement after her death read: "Anyone who had met her would know what a truly special and kind lady she was. We are heartbroken and will miss her terribly, but she is now at peace."
Despite Cowell's noticeable absence, the mood was bright among the rest of the X-Factor team.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini praised the addition of Grimshaw and pop star Rita Ora to the judging panel, saying: "It's the most fun I've ever had on the show.
"It's definitely more lively, definitely more crazy and fun."
Talk centred on an ice cream fight which erupted among the judges, forcing producers to halt filming for an hour and a half during yesterday's auditions.
Olly Murs, who is taking over the presenter reins with Caroline Flack after Dermot O'Leary stepped down from the show, referred to the incident as "ice cream gate".
He said: "The judges had an ice cream fight with the audience whilst a contestant was auditioning.
"No-one got Simon, which was interesting, because he pays our wages."
Grimshaw blamed Cowell: "Simon started it, 100%, he started it.
"He stuck a full 99 cone in Cheryl's face to the extent, when she leant over, she ripped her dress. It was a disaster.
"I had to wash my hair in a very small sink in a toilet in Wembley. It was a mess."
He added: "I could smell ice cream this morning when I woke up."
Ora said: "It was so much fun and I think it just literally broke the ice, because there's always a bit of pressure in London."
The singer, who was lured from her mentor role on rival BBC show The Voice, said her new judging experience was "completely different".
She said: "It's a completely different show. First of all it's a panel, not a chair. For me it's two completely different worlds."