Back to where it all began: 2006 winner Leona Lewis returns to The X Factor as a guest judge

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By Emily Sheridan

She's been the franchise's most successful star after winning The X Factor nearly six years ago.

And today Leona Lewis returned to the ITV talent show... but this time, as a judge.

The East London-raised singer joined Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and Tulisa Contostavlos on the panel at the auditions at the capital's O2 Arena.

The new girl in town: Guest judge Leona Lewis joins (L-R) Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh at the first London auditions for X Factor

Lewis, 27, is the second guest judge in the upcoming ninth series of the show, following Geri Halliwell's stint at the Liverpool auditions on Wednesday.

X Factor bosses are currently searching for a permanent replacement after the recent announcement that Kelly Rowland would not be returning.

At one point, ex-judge Dannii Minogue was in talks to return, after quitting following the 2010 series, but that plan didn't come to fruition.

Not very summery! Leona covered in trousers, waistcoat and blouse, while Tulisa looked very summery in an onion-print top and yellow shorts

Hopefully, Lewis's temporary appointment on the panel will go smoother than former Spice Girl Halliwell, who was booed by some of the audience.

Ahead of the auditions, Leona tweeted: So excited to be judging on Xfactor in London today! I can't wait to see all the talent in my hometown! #XFactorUK.'

Uploaded a photo of herself getting her hair and make-up touched up, tweeting: 'Just finished round one of judging! So much talent in London!'

'So much talent in London': Lewis tweeted a photo of herself in the make-up room getting touched up during a break in auditions

Lewis's X Factor stint in the UK comes after she was a guest mentor on the Swedish version of the show earlier this week.

Xtra Factor co-host Caroline Flack, who interviewed Lewis and the other judges for the ITV2 spin-off show, tweeted she was impressed with the singer so far.

She wrote on Twitter: 'Oooh look a new judge!

'Leona is coming across so lovely! And looks beautiful...'

Barlow had also been looking forward to Lewis joining the panel, after tweeting on Friday night: 'Just finished Pilates! What a day! Back to #XFactor tomorrow at London's o2! The fantastic Leona Lewis will be joining us! Good luck singers.'

Gorgeous day: Xtra Factor host Caroline Flack looked thrilled to be filming outside in the sunshine