The X Factor 2012: Acts able to sing own original music

Louis Walsh, Tulisa Contostavlos, Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow
Kelly Rowland (second right) has been replaced with Nicole Scherzinger

Acts on the new series of The X Factor will be allowed to write and perform their own original music, producers have confirmed.

Other changes to the show see the Overs category being raised from 25 to 28 years old.

The final of the show will also be staged in Manchester, while the bootcamp phase will take place in Liverpool.

The ITV show returns with a new judge, Nicole Scherzinger, on 18 August.

Fellow judge Gary Barlow said the auditions had thrown up an "overwhelming amount of amazing singers in the Overs category".

The Take That singer said that raising the age limit would make the other categories more competitive and spread the talent more evenly.

'Exciting first'

Moving the bootcamp and the final out of London is another first for the series.

Last year's final was staged at Wembley Arena rather than Fountain Studios, which has been the home of the show since 2004.

This year's showpiece will take place in December at Manchester Central.

Judges Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger, Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh will all decamp to the city for the crowning of the winner.

"We like to try new things every year and going to Manchester is an exciting first for all of us," said Tulisa.

Nearly half the tickets for the two-night final at the 11,000 seat venue, formerly known as GMEX, will be given to customers of the sponsor of the series and final.

Girl group Little Mix were crowned winners last year in front of a peak TV audience of 15.5 million.

In 2010, a peak of 19.4 million saw Matt Cardle's triumph with 19.1 million tuning in the year before.