Cowell broke his back in a bike accident last year and had to take a break from television for surgery and extensive rehab and recovery. In July, his popular talent show “The X Factor” was canceled after 17 years.
Cowell will stay on “Walk The Line,” focusing on his role as show creator and executive producer.
Barlow, who has sold more than 50 million records with pop group Take That and as a solo star, replaces Cowell in his judge’s chair on the Maya Jama-hosted show, which is due to air this fall on ITV.
The format sees musical acts take to the stage to perform, facing a panel of judges. The top two performers of the evening then face a decision in their bid to be crowned champion — to either go home with a cash prize, or walk the line and play on.
An ITV spokesperson told Variety: “We are delighted that Gary has decided to join the ‘Walk The Line’ family and we understand and support Simon’s decision to focus on his role as producer and creator for this debut series. Gary will bring his musical expertise as one of the world’s leading singer songwriters to the show, which promises to uncover some brilliant new talent and offer the unique chance to win a life changing prize.”
Cowell said: “This is a situation where I have decided it is right for me to focus on my role as the creator and producer as we build up to the hugely exciting launch of the first series of our new show, ‘Walk The Line.’ On that basis, I am thrilled that Gary is joining the panel. Gary’s musical pedigree is second to none — and we have known each other a long time now — so I am delighted he is picking up the baton for me for the first series of ‘Walk The Line.’ I know he will do a fantastic job.”
Barlow added: ‘When Simon calls, it’s usually with something fairly extraordinary. I’m so excited to be involved in a brand new TV show, and of course my favorite part of ‘Walk the Line’ is discovering new talent.”
Barlow was previously a judge on “The X Factor.”