Photographs taken earlier this week of X-Factor judge and Take That front man Gary Barlow suggest that his role as a judge may have taken its toll on his hair. Snapped entering ITV’s Fountain Studios for rehearsals, the 40-year-old appears to be showing distinct signs of thinning hair around his crown.
Gary Barlow is the lead judge on ITV’s hugely successful X Factor talent show, filling the role previously occupied by Simon Cowell. At the start of the series, critics questioned whether one of “the nice guys of pop” had the required grit to replace Cowell, widely regarded as one of the most acerbic personalities on TV.
As the series opened, both viewers and critics alike were impressed by Barlow’s forceful personality and brutal honesty which mirrored that of Cowell himself. Early on reviewers and commentators were keen to hail Barlow as a worthy stand-in for Cowell.
As the initial public rounds of the X Factor program were completed and the program moved into the studio proper, viewing figures began to drop significantly. Where plaudits had initially been glowing, descriptions of Barlow’s performance became ever more savage:
“He tries hard to fill Simon Cowell’s high-waisted trousers with a bit of grumbling and the odd attempt at a fixed death-stare, but simply doesn’t possess the crucial Pantomime Baddie gene,” wrote Judith Woods in the Daily Telegraph.
Reports suggest that Simon Cowell has been ignoring the time difference between the US, where he currently lives, and the UK, telephoning Gary Barlow in the middle of the night to dispense advice as to how to improve the programme’s ratings. Most concerning for Syco productions (owned by Simon Cowell) is that viewers have been deserting the X Factor in their hundreds of thousands in favour of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.
This time last year the X Factor was drawing 12.6 million viewers on a Saturday night. Now just 9.6 million are tuning in. The Sunday night eviction shows are also down 2 million, with 11.4 million viewers catching up with the voting results.
18-year-old contestant and protégé Frankie Cocozza is also believed to be adding to the pressure on Barlow who is struggling to keep the young man in contention. In the competition Cocozza has been fighting to remain in the programme as he is failing to connect with the public during his performances, consequently receiving few telephone votes. Barlow’s headaches were further increased when Cocozza ended up in the bottom two contestants last week. He was saved only by other judge Louis Walsh’s choice to drop Nu Vibe instead.
Barlow is under pressure both on and off camera, which obviously raises his stress levels, potentially having a negative effect on his health and potentially causing the thinning hair observed this week.
As the “lead” judge in the X Factor panel of experts, Barlow holds much responsibility for the success or otherwise of the show and is under increasing pressure to revive the shows fortunes. As a result it is possible that the thinning hair photographed this week could be caused by the pressures of the job finally taking their toll on Barlow’s hairline.
It looks like Barlow is experiencing male pattern balding - a condition that affects most men at some point in their life and something which can be treated very successfully with the right treatment recommendations. Thinning and hair loss become more common as men get older, with around half experiencing it to some degree before they reach 50. Having turned 40 earlier this year, Barlow is certainly of an age where hairloss becomes more obvious.
With expert advice and treatment, Barlow should be able to reverse his hair loss allowing him to focus on his X Factor and Take That commitments without having to worry about further unflattering press photography, or complaints from the executive producer. Fresh hair regrowth is often recognised as contributing to increased confidence and a return to form which could be exactly what Barlow needs at this point. Increased confidence should also help reduce the stress which Gary is currently experiencing.
Regardless of how bad viewing figures and reviews may be, Barlow’s hair loss need not contribute to the end of his tenure as head judge on X Factor.
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