Cowell raps Cole for defending Dixon

Cheryl Cole has been reprimanded by Simon Cowell for defending Alesha Dixon.

The Girls Aloud beauty jumped to the defence of the new ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ judge – who has been criticised for her bland opinions and lack of expertise on the BBC ballroom dancing show – but has been told by her fellow ‘X Factor’ panellist not to give the rival programme any publicity.

A source said: “Simon’s very much of the opinion of letting ‘Strictly’ get on with it.

“He knows he’s got the best show on TV and what they do is their own business. He wants everyone connected with the show to be pulling in the same direction and not getting distracted over the backlash with Alesha.

“Simon would rather Cheryl spoke about ‘The X Factor’. After all, if she talks about ‘Strictly’ all she is doing is giving a rival show free publicity.”

Defending Alesha, Cheryl had said: “She is a really strong woman. I think she is well qualified and I wish her the best of luck and hopes it all backs off for her.”

Meanwhile Cheryl Cole’s Girls Aloud bandmate Kimberley Walsh – who helped her pick her three finalists for the show last year – has criticised the show’s new live audition format.

She said: “It makes it a lot harder for those auditioning. I’m not sure about it. It has become a tougher job for everyone.”

‘Strictly’ and ‘The X Factor’ are locked in a ratings war, as they are shown at overlapping times on Saturday nights on BBC One and ITV1 respectively.

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