“X Factor” U.K. stars Liam Payne (who is 22) and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (who is 32) are dating each other, according to The Sun. The couple have been in a romance since December 2015, the tabloid says. E! News also confirmed the Payne and Fernandez-Versini are dating. Although they have not yet publicly commented on their relationship, Payne seemed to be making a statement about it by changing his Instagram profile photo to a photo of the two of them together. On Valentine’s Day, he also posted a message: “Happy Valentine’s Day baby,” indicating that there is indeed a special someone he is dating.
Payne is a member of One Direction, the world’s most successful act to emerge from “The X Factor.” Fernandez-Versini, who is a former member of Girls Aloud, has a long history as a judge on “The X Factor” U.K. She was a judge on the show from 2008 to 2010, and then rejoined the show in 2014. She was a judge when Payne auditioned for “The X Factor” U.K. in 2008 and then in 2010. It was in 2010 that Payne and four other contestants who auditioned as solo singers (Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Niall Horan) were put into a group by Simon Cowell and other “X Factor” decision makers. The group was named One Direction, and the rest is history. One Direction came in third place on the show, Cowell signed the group to his Syco Music label, and One Direction ended up selling millions of records and became one of the top touring acts in the world.
On Feb. 24, 2016, Fernandez-Versini and Payne attended the Brit Awards, but they did not walk the red carpet together and did not publicly act like a couple at the show. They were both presenters at the ceremony, where One Direction ended up winning the prize for Best British Artist Video (for “Drag Me Down”).
This isn’t the first time that Payne has dated an older woman from “The X Factor” U.K. He had an on-again/off-again romance with dancer Danielle Peazer from 2010 to 2013. They met when Peazer was a dancer on the show. When he and Peazer (who is five years older than Payne) broke up for a few months in late 2012, he briefly dated Leona Lewis, the winner of “The X Factor” U.K. in 2006. Lewis is eight years older than Payne.
After Peazer and Payne got back together broke up for the final time, he quickly moved on to dating Sophia Smith, and they were together from 2013 to 2015.
Fernandez-Versini has been separated from her second husband, Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini, since the fall of 2015. The former couple wed in 2014 after just a few months of dating. Fernandez-Versini was previously married to soccer player Ashley Cole from 2006 to 2010.
One Direction is currently on a hiatus for an undetermined period of time. The group is now a quartet since Malik left One Direction in March 2015.