The X Factor is a British television music competition to find new singing talent, contested by aspiring singers drawn from public auditions. Created by Simon Cowell, the show began in 2004 and has since aired annually from August/September until December. The show is produced by FremantleMedia's Thames (previously Talkback Thames) and Cowell's production company SycoTV. It is broadcast on the ITV network in the United Kingdom and simulcast on TV3 in the Republic of Ireland, with spin-off behind-the-scenes show The Xtra Factor screened on ITV2. The "X Factor" refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality. The show was devised as a replacement for the highly successful Pop Idol, which was put on indefinite hiatus after its second series, largely because Cowell, who was a judge on Pop Idol, wished to launch a show to which he owned the television rights. The perceived similarity between the two shows later became the subject of a legal dispute.The original judging panel consisted of Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Cowell. Brian Friedman replaced Walsh in series 4, which also saw Dannii Minogue join the panel. However, Friedman later left and was replaced by Walsh. Cheryl Cole took the place of Osbourne in series 5. Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa Contostavlos joined the panel in series 8 as replacements for Cowell, Minogue and Cole, though Rowland left before series 9 and was replaced by Nicole Scherzinger. Osbourne returned to the panel in series 10, replacing Contostavlos. Cowell and Cole returned to replace Barlow and Osbourne in series 11, while Mel B replaced Scherzinger. The first three series of the show were presented by Kate Thornton. Since series 4, the show has been presented by Dermot O'Leary. Also, in series 10, The Xtra Factor presenter Caroline Flack served as a backstage presenter during the Saturday night live shows. The show is split into different stages, following the contestants from auditions through to the final.