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It was the biggest secret in TV – but Simon Cowell’s under-the-table dealings were rumbled last night during a filming of Birmingham’s X-factor hopefuls to be broadcast on Saturday.

Many have wondered how Cowell maintains his smug demeanour while endlessly humiliating contestant after contestant. Now the truth is out: his performance is enhanced by a non-stop groin massage from a team of fluffers.

Appearing and disappearing though a trap door under the judges’ table, the girls are kept under strict instructions to ‘keep him smug’.

The fluffing has been going on since the very first episode of X-factor and the public have never suspected a thing – but that was before one of the girls tried to steal a £1000 pair of Jimmy Choos straight off Cheryl Cole’s feet.

“One of your slags just tried to knick me shoes!” screamed Cole, as the girl came up from the table to flick Cole the finger while maintaining her professional duties. Audience members gasped in shock and filming was immediately brought to a halt as the scene turned increasingly unsuitable for primetime television.

Cowell and Cole have both refused to comment, but this morning a spokesperson for the show said, “We all need to relax at work. Some have fags and biscuits, others a foot spa filled with soya milk. Simon needs what Simon needs and if ITV are willing to pay £33 million for it, then why not?”

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