Ten weeks ago, Simon Cowell suffered a horrifying fall. He was testing an electric bike and, after underestimating its power, was thrown off — breaking his back in three places.
He had a six-and-a-half-hour operation to fuse the breaks in his spine, having come just millimetres away from being paralysed.
And now, with Britain’s Got Talent concluding without him, and his 61st birthday quietly celebrated among family, he remains cloistered in his £19 million Malibu mansion.
Simon Cowell, pictured, was badly injured while using a battery-powered bicycle. The music mogul, pictured here with his partner Lauren Silverman, left
The music mogul, pictured, purchased a £5,000 battery-powered bicycle which he later crashed
In his absence from public view, some rumours suggest he is bed-bound, wearing a back brace and on high-strength painkillers.
One report says he requires a full-time nurse and is a long way yet from health. ‘He’s still in a bad way,’ says a London contact.
The process of recovery has been more lengthy and complex than Cowell and his team initially hoped. At the time of his accident there were hopes that he would be able to return to work in front of the cameras at the end of September, first filming the final of America’s Got Talent then flying to the UK for the conclusion of Britain’s Got Talent.
Neither has proved possible, on the advice of his doctors. Instead, the initial ‘euphoria’ that he had come through the fall without serious consequences have given way to an appreciation of just how daunting his recovery is.
One very close contact tells me: ‘It will be a long road before he is back on form again. It is all going to take a lot longer than expected as the breaks weren’t straightforward. He needs lots of physio and lots of time. He is doing very little work, so really following doctor’s orders.’
Another source explains: ‘He is building up his strength but the recovery is taking longer than we hoped. It was a very serious injury and they didn’t fully appreciate that at first.
‘There was initial euphoria that he was all right, when he felt that he had come through it by a miracle. Then came the pain.
‘He had about six weeks of agony. By early September, it was obvious that he wasn’t going to be ready to physically travel at all for work. He was on high-strength painkillers but he isn’t any more. He also doesn’t have a live-in nurse any more.
Sources claim that Mr Cowell, pictured right, suffered serious injuries in the crash
‘Progress has been made since and he had a three-hour meeting via his iPad this week. He could not have managed that six weeks ago. He is building up his strength.’
Cowell is also no longer bed-bound. He sees a physiotherapist daily and is trying to do 10,000 steps a day. He’s also swimming to try to regain strength in his muscles.
During this period of recovery, he has also stayed away from social media. Immediately after the accident he wrote on Twitter: ‘Some good advice… if you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it.
‘I have broken part of my back. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages.’
Since then there has been silence — not a word about the finals of BGT or the U.S. version — which is quite uncharacteristic of Cowell, a workaholic by nature.
I’m told he has kept up with affairs in his television empire, but is only now really returning to work, remotely.
Naturally, the Covid pandemic means that working from home has seemed quite normal.
BGT co-judge Amanda Holden said last week that all his friends have been worried about him. ‘He’s doing well. I keep in touch with Lauren [Silverman, Cowell’s girlfriend] every week. His will and determination to get himself better is inspiring. He’s very determined, he’s a fighter. We know that there is no way he will want to be seen failing or not to get better as quickly as he possibly can.’
Ex-girlfriend Sinitta added: ‘It was a serious accident. So for people who love him, like me, it was very, very scary. He’s taken some steps, so he has reassured himself that he’s not paralysed. But he’s got to take his time and get well.’
Another former girlfriend, TV presenter Terri Seymour, went to a small birthday party for him last weekend.
On Sunday she and daughter Coco visited Cowell, Lauren and their son Eric, six, at their Los Angeles home.
A friend admitted that Mr Cowell, pictured, ‘no longer feels invincible’
A sweet video posted on Instagram by Terri shows the two children singing Happy Birthday to Simon while a cake is brought in. He then blows out the candle having carefully taken it off the cake first.
It’s a very rare social engagement as Simon has been seeing almost nobody: he is very Covid cautious. Friends observe that the pandemic is spreading freely in California and he is naturally concerned not to get ill.
In fact, the accident has made him realise he is not invincible. He has even managed to finally shake his addiction to cigarettes and is down to just the occasional one.
A friend said: ‘He definitely no longer feels invincible and this has been a wake up for him about his health and lifestyle. He was nearly paralysed and feels lucky to be recovering at all.’ The fall was of life-changing seriousness. Some in his circle think it might even make him think again about making a commitment of marriage to Lauren. ‘Never say never,’ says one.
Why? Well in addition to the acknowledged phenomenon that trauma makes people reconsider their relationships, he and Lauren have never spent such a prolonged period together.
Before his accident they were enjoying family time with Eric. Simon had insisted on Lauren camping out with them in their garden. Up to that point she had never spent a night under canvas.
Together for seven years, he has never proposed, although she has continued to hope that he might.
He loves her and adores their son, but until now has resisted the idea of losing his freedom (and a chunk of his £385 million fortune should things go wrong.)
Usually, Lauren spends one week with Simon followed by a week in New York where her older son Adam lives. During the pandemic she has been spending more time in LA. Those close to Cowell say she is thoroughly decent, kind, loyal and supportive.
She’s been an important part of his working life. The deal to bring Robbie Williams and wife Ayda Field onto the judging panel of the X Factor in 2018 was facilitated by Lauren, who was friends with Ayda through their children.
Friends claim his next target is a long break in Barbados. He plans to spend the festive season there as usual with Lauren, Eric and their
Her role in his life has never been greater. For some time now, she has been his ‘gatekeeper’ because Cowell doesn’t have a mobile phone. Anyone who wants to contact him urgently does so by either calling his house, or Lauren.
He ditched his phone long before his accident, reasoning that it was better for his mental health to be able to cut off communications for periods of time. The catalyst for this change was when he fell down the stairs at his London home after fainting in October 2017.
He vowed to overhaul the ‘vampire lifestyle’ which saw him making transatlantic phone calls all night until 8am.
He also radically changed his diet and has lost 4st. Cowell barely touches alcohol and follows a largely vegetarian diet. His focus now is to be fully well and ready to be on screen for the return of Britain’s Got Talent in January next year — Covid permitting.
His next target is a long break in Barbados. He plans to spend the festive season there as usual with Lauren, Eric and their dogs.
There will be no jet-skis though. Unsurprisingly, he has lost his appetite for ‘boys toys’.