The X Factor (UK TV series)
|The X Factor|
|Created by||Simon Cowell|
|Directed by||Phil Heyes|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||14|
|No. of episodes||417 (as of 3 December 2017)|
|Running time||60–150 minutes|
|Original release||4 September 2004– present|
The X Factor is a British reality television music competition to find new singing talent. The contestants are aspiring singers drawn from public auditions. Created by Simon Cowell, the show began in 2004 and has since aired annually from August/September until December. The show is produced by FremantleMedia's Thames (previously Talkback Thames) and Cowell's production company Syco Entertainment. It is broadcast on the ITV network in the UK and simulcast on TV3 in Ireland. "X Factor" refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality. The series consists of auditions, bootcamp, judges' houses, several weeks of live shows, semi-finals and the final. The series had a spin-off behind-the-scenes show called The Xtra Factor, which aired directly after the main show on ITV2. This lasted for the first thirteen series, when it was cancelled by ITV in January 2017. It is replaced by an online spin-off show Xtra Bites exclusively on the ITV Hub. The first three series were presented by Kate Thornton, then from series four to eleven, the show was presented by Dermot O'Leary. Series 12 was presented by Caroline Flack and Olly Murs with O'Leary returning for series 13.
The original judging panel consisted of Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Cowell. In 2005, Paula Abdul joined the show as a guest judge whilst Osbourne was away then joined the panel in 2006 for three sets of auditions. Brian Friedman briefly replaced Walsh in the fourth series, which also saw Dannii Minogue join the panel. Friedman left during the auditions, and Walsh replaced Friedman. Cheryl Tweedy replaced Osbourne in the fifth series. Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa joined the panel in the eighth series as replacements for Cowell, Minogue and Cheryl. Rowland left before the ninth series and was replaced by Nicole Scherzinger. Osbourne returned to the panel in the tenth series, replacing Tulisa. Cowell and Tweedy (later Fernandez-Versini) returned to replace Barlow and Osbourne in eleventh series, while Mel B replaced Scherzinger. In the twelfth series, Mel B and Walsh were replaced by Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw. For the thirteenth and fourteenth series, Walsh, Osbourne and Scherzinger returned, replacing Grimshaw, Cheryl and Ora. Following the conclusion of the latter series, Walsh and Scherzinger quit after thirteen and four years respectively, as a judge, and Osbourne announced she would only return for the live shows, becoming the series' first-ever fifth judge. Louis Tomlinson, Ayda Field and Robbie Williams will join Cowell for the upcoming fifteenth series.
The show is split into different stages, following the contestants from auditions through to the final. In the original televised audition stage of the show, contestants sang in an audition room in front of just the judges, but from the sixth series onwards auditionees sing on a stage in front of the judges and a live audience. In series 10 and 11, both auditions formats were used. In series 12, the room auditions were scrapped, leaving just the arena auditions. The room auditions were revived in series 13, and no arena auditions followed. Successful auditionees go through to "bootcamp" and then to "judges' houses", where judges narrow down the acts in their category down to three or four acts to mentor for the live shows, where the public vote for their favourite acts following weekly live performances by the contestants.
There have been 14 winners of the show to date: Steve Brookstein, Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis, Leon Jackson, Alexandra Burke, Joe McElderry, Matt Cardle, Little Mix, James Arthur, Sam Bailey, Ben Haenow, Louisa Johnson, Matt Terry and Rak-Su. Winners receive a recording contract with record label Syco Music with a stated value of £1 million. This includes a cash payment to the winner, but the majority is allocated to marketing and recording costs. From 2004 to 2010, and again in 2013 and 2014, the winning contestant's single was released in time for the end-of-year chart battle for the UK's Christmas number one, (from 2004 to 2009 then again from 2010 to 2014, the winners single have reached number one). As of November 2016, 41 number-one singles have been achieved by artists who have appeared on the show, such as Lewis, Burke, JLS, Diana Vickers, Olly Murs, Cher Lloyd, One Direction, Little Mix, Arthur and Ella Henderson.
The show is the originator of the international The X Factor franchise. A prominent show in British popular culture, The X Factor has proved hugely popular with the public. The sixth series attracted 200,000 auditionees and peaked at 19.7 million UK viewers (a 63.2% audience share). More than 10 million votes were cast in the sixth series final.
The X Factor was created by Sony Music A&R judge Simon Cowell as a replacement for Pop Idol. Cowell, who was a judge on Pop Idol, wished to launch a show to which he owned the television rights. Pop Idol's first series was massively successful, and while the second series was also successful, the viewing figures for its finale dropped. Some – including Cowell's fellow Pop Idol judge Pete Waterman –  considered Michelle McManus an unworthy winner. In 2004, ITV announced a new show created by Cowell, with no involvement from Pop Idol creator Simon Fuller – The X Factor. The perceived similarity between the two shows later became the subject of a legal dispute.
Unlike Pop Idol, The X Factor has no upper-age limit, groups can apply, and contestants are also split into categories. Cowell said, "We're trying to create a different competition. Hopefully we're going to be able to appeal to somebody over the age of 35 who keeps saying to me 'there aren't any artists I like in the competition'. It's amazing, but we haven't catered for older record buyers who want to buy into the new Cliff Richard or whatever."
For series 1–3 the competition was split into three categories: 16–24s (solo acts aged 16–24), Over 25s (solo acts aged 25 and over) and Groups (including duos). In series 4–5, the minimum age was lowered to 14, creating a 14–24 age group. With the addition of a fourth judge in series 4, this was split into separate male and female sections, making four categories in all: "Boys" (14–24 males), "Girls" (14–24 females), Over 25s and Groups. For series 6, the minimum age returned to 16, meaning that the Boys category became 16–24 males and the Girls category became 16–24 females. For series 7, the age group boundaries were changed, and the Over 25s became Over 28s, with the Boys and Girls categories becoming 16–28. It was changed back to Over 25s for series 8, before reverting to Over 28s in series 9. In series 10, it became the Over 25s again. In series 11, the minimum age returned to 14. This then returned to 16 as of series 12. Also in series 12, the Over 25s category was renamed to "Overs". In series 11, each judge chose a wildcard for another judge; this could be any act who was given a chair at any point in the six-chair challenge. In all series, apart from series 12, the show's producers decided which judge mentored which category. In the 12th series, the public chose which judge mentored which category via a Twitter vote.
Alongside the more serious acts who are contesting to win the competition or gain enough exposure to secure a future recording contract, The X Factor usually has at least one "novelty act" or "joke act" in the live shows. This helps to boost ratings and add some fun into the live shows, although they tend to be controversial due to the show being primarily a singing competition. Some of the popular novelty acts to appear on the show include Rhydian Roberts, Johnny Robinson, Rylan Clark, Diva Fever, Chico Slimani, Wagner, Stevi Ritchie, Seann Miley Moore, Honey G and Jedward. These tend to be predominantly in the Overs category and occasionally in the Groups. For series 9 of the X Factor, judge Gary Barlow reportedly had an issue with the Overs category, which he had been chosen to mentor. A source stated: "Gary doesn't like joke acts and the Overs category is often full of novelty acts."
While mentoring what Barlow called the 'joke category', he showed strong support for self-confessed "pantomime villain" Christopher Maloney right through to the grand final, despite strong criticism from fellow judges Louis Walsh and Tulisa for his cabaret performances. The format was changed for series 10 with no joke contestant in the final 12. Writing for The Telegraph, Olly Mann felt that this change was unwelcoming. He wrote: "The fact that the joke contestants made it through to the live shows used to be the most gloriously British part of The X Factor. We love an underdog... It was a vital part of the format." However, the 'joke act' returned to series 13 with Honey G. The rapper from Harrow, North London was described by Isabel Mohan in The Telegraph as "the biggest joke in X Factor history."
There are five stages to the competition:
- Stage 1: Producers' auditions – these auditions are un-televised, and decide who will sing in front of the judges
- Stage 2: Judges' auditions – either in an audition room (series 1–5, 13–14), an arena (series 6–9, 12, 15-), or both (series 10–11)
- Stage 3: Bootcamp – a series of challenges and knockout rounds (series 1–9), the Six-Chair Challenge (series 10–11) or both (series 12–)
- Stage 4: Judges' houses – either pre-recorded (series 1–11, 13–) or live (series 12)
- Stage 5: Live shows (finals)
Note: In series 10–11, the Bootcamp round was shortened to only several minutes and was broadcast before the start of the Six-Chair Challenge.
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A round of first auditions is held in front of producers months before the show is aired, either by application and appointment, or at "open" auditions that anyone can attend. These auditions, held at various venues around the UK, attract very large crowds. The auditions themselves are not televised, but shots of crowds waving and "judges' cars" arriving are filmed and later spliced in with the televised auditions shot later in the year. The production team supply the crowds with "home-made" signs. After waiting at the venue for hours and filming more inserts of screaming and waving, candidates are given a brief audition by someone from the production team. Should they pass that audition (either for reasons of talent or for the potential of making entertaining television), they are given a "golden ticket" that allows them to sing to a more senior production member. Only candidates who successfully pass that second and third auditions are invited to perform to the judges. The televised version misrepresents the process by implying that the entire huge crowds all perform to the judges.
A selection of the auditions in front of the judges – usually the best, the worst and the most bizarre (described by Louis Walsh as "the good, the bad and the ugly") – are broadcast over the first few weeks of the show. In the first five series, each act entered the audition room and delivered a stand-up unaccompanied performance of their chosen song to the judges. From series 6–9, the judges' auditions were held in front of a live audience and the acts sang over a backing track. If a majority of the judges (two in series 1–3, or three from series 4 onwards) say "yes" then the act goes through to the next stage, otherwise, they are sent home. From series 10, the judges' room auditions were brought back; successful acts then later went onto the judges' arena auditions. In series 12, the room auditions were axed, with only the arena auditions taking place.
Over 50,000 people auditioned for series 1, around 75,000 for series 2 and around 100,000 for series 3. The number of applicants for series 4 reached 150,000, 182,000 people auditioned for series 5, and a record 200,000 people applied for series 6. Series 7 applicants were given the opportunity to apply by uploading a video audition to the Internet. In series 9, for the first time, applicants could audition online via Facebook. The show's producers also sent a "mobile audition van" to 18 locations throughout the UK and Ireland so they can audition singers who cannot make the arena auditions.
Bootcamp and judges' houses
The contestants selected at auditions are further refined through a series of performances at "Bootcamp", and then at the "judges' houses" (previously "judges' homes"), until a small number eventually progress to the live finals (nine in series 1, 12 from series 2 to 6, 16 from series 7–8, 13 in series 9, and back to 12 in series 10). Walsh revealed in October 2007 that the houses the contestants visit may not actually belong to the judges, but are sometimes rented for the purpose. During these stages, the producers allocate each of the judges a category to mentor. In the early series, this allocation took place after completion of the auditions and prior to Bootcamp, but from series 4, all four judges work together at the Bootcamp stage. They collectively choose 24 acts (six from each category) for the next round and only then find out which category they will mentor
Bootcamp has two stages: in the first stage, acts are allocated into groups and must perform a song to the judges in their groups, with each act showcasing a few parts of the song solo. Those who pass this stage then must sing again on their own in the next stage in front of the judges. A live audience was added to the second stage from series 4 onwards (one exception in series 5 saw the live audience in the first stage instead, and another in series 7 saw it being axed altogether due to Cole's and Minogue's absences), and the performances at both stages now take place at Wembley Arena from series 7 onwards (the first use of the live audience at the arena was in series 8). Usually in both stages, the judges do not give any feedback to the acts after performing, and only deliberate on which acts to send through after all the performances at each stage are finished. However, in series 5, 9, 10, 12, 13, and 14, the judges give feedback to the acts in the first stage and immediately decide who to send through. They also made the immediate decisions in the second stage In series 7, an intermediate stage was used in-between the two stages in which the acts were taught to do a dance routine by the creative director but were not judged on performance. In series 8 and 9, the judges reviewed the audition tapes of the acts and deliberated on who to send home before their arrival, only revealing their eliminated acts to the contestants just before the first stage. In series 13, the second stage of Bootcamp was cut down and the judges made the decisions on who to send through to the next stage of the competition.
In series 4, 6, and 8 the judges found out which category they would be mentoring at the same time that the contestants found out their mentor, but in series 5, 7 and 9 the contestants did not know who their mentor was until they revealed themselves at the house. The judges then disband for the "judges' houses" round, where they reduce their six acts to three for the live shows. In series 7 and 8, a total of 32 acts went through to judges' houses, giving each judge eight acts instead of six.
In series 10, the format to Bootcamp was changed: the judges find out their categories before Bootcamp starts, and each judge will make decisions on who is performing in the Six-Chair Challenge by eliminating the contestants, this is up to each individual judge. From Series 11 onwards, the judges do not know their categories before the Bootcamp, so they have to make the decisions together. After the Bootcamp round, the mentor challenges their contestants through the Six-Chair Challenge. Judges make decisions on who to put through to judges' houses straight after each act has performed, with those getting a yes taking a chair in the final six chairs on stage. It is up to the mentor to decide, which act they want to take to judges' houses, but once all six spots are full, if the mentor wants to send another act through to the next stage it means they have to replace one of those who were previously given a yes. This format was very poorly rated by many members of the British public. Bootcamp still took place, but only highlights were shown in the first episode of the Six-chair challenge. In series 12, all of Bootcamp aired on-screen. A more brutal twist to the Six-Chair Challenge was introduced in series 14, where the mentor is to sit at a smaller table at the side of the arena while making the decisions, while the other judges remain at a larger table on the other side.
For series 12, the judges' houses round was given a new tweak: the contestants perform for their mentors in the scheduled destinations as usual, but only find out whether or not they are through to the live shows during a live decider in front of a studio audience of friends and family. Judges' houses returned to its previous format in being entirely pre-recorded at the locations for series 13.
The X Factor house
The selected finalists (either 9, 12, 13 or 16 acts) move into shared accommodation to take part in the show. The house accommodates both contestants and TV production staff and footage from the house is often used in spin-off show The Xtra Factor. In 2009 the house, in West Heath Avenue, Golders Green, received significant press coverage when it was mobbed by fans, leading to the police being called. This led to concerns by the neighbours of the 2010 house in Hyver Hill, Mill Hill that it would receive similar attention, with a local farmer worried his land would be damaged, but local businesses were said to be looking forward to increased trade. The 2011 residence, Connaught House in Hertford Heath had cameras installed for filming. In 2012, the finalists stayed at the Corinthia Hotel in London.
The finals consist of a series of two live shows, the first featuring the contestants' performances and the second revealing the results of the public voting, culminating in one or more acts being eliminated. Celebrity guest performers also feature regularly. These live shows were filmed at Fountain Studios in Wembley, London from series 1 to 13. In series 1–5, both live shows were broadcast on Saturday nights. In series 6, the results show moved to Sunday nights. In series 1, nine acts were put through to the live shows, increased to 12 in series 2. In series 7, following the addition of four wildcards, it increased to 16. In series 8, the judges selected four acts each to go through the live shows, without the inclusion of wildcards. Then in series 9, it reduced back to three each, but one wildcard was added, meaning there were 13 finalists. Series 10 reverted to 12 finalists. Series 11 initially did the same, but the addition of four wildcards in the live shows brought it back up to 16 finalists; but with the wildcards chosen by a different judge instead of their category's mentor. Series 12 used the same format as series 9, in which each category had three acts before one wildcard was added. For series 13, it returned to just 12 finalists, with no wildcard twist (like in series 10), although wildcard acts in each category were selected prior to judges' houses, each judge picking for another judge's category. Series 14 also used the wildcard premise as series 7 and 11, but added a twist in which the public voted for one act in each category to progress to the live shows.
The show is primarily concerned with identifying a potential pop star or star group, and singing talent, appearance, personality, stage presence and dance routines are all important elements of the contestants' performances. In the initial live shows, each act performs once in the first show in front of a studio audience and the judges, usually singing over a pre-recorded backing track. Dancers are also commonly featured. Acts occasionally accompany themselves on guitar or piano.
In the first two series, acts usually chose a cover of a pop standard or contemporary hit. In series 1, much was made of the idea that each performer/mentor combination was free to present the performance however they wanted, including performer playing live instruments, or the addition of choirs, backing bands, and dancers. From the third series, each live show has had a different theme; each contestant's song is chosen according to the theme. A celebrity guest connected to the theme is often invited onto the show, and clips are shown of the guest conversing with the contestants at rehearsal. After each act has performed, the judges comment on their performance. Heated disagreements, usually involving judges defending their contestants against criticism, are a regular feature of the show. Once all the acts have appeared, the phone lines open and the viewing public vote on which act they want to keep.
Once the number of contestants has been reduced to four (series 1 and 3), five (series 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11) or seven (series 7), the format changes. Each act performs twice in the first show, with the public vote opening after the first performance. This continues until only two (series 1 and 3), three (series 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11) or four (series 7) acts remain. These acts go on to appear in the grand final which decides the overall winner by public vote. In past series some of the more memorable failed auditionees from the early rounds have also returned for a special appearance in the final. From its inception up to series 7, the final took place in the same studio as the live shows. However, from series 8 onwards, due to the success of the arena auditions, the final now takes place at Wembley Arena, accommodating a larger stage and a much larger audience (in series 9, however, the final took place at Manchester Central as Wembley Arena was unavailable).
Series 6 saw a change to the live show format: since then, the live shows on Saturdays show just the contestants' performances, and Sunday's results shows reveal the results for the contestants, giving viewers a much longer time span to vote. Series 9 completely changed the voting format. Lines now open for viewers to vote at the start of each show, and then close during the results show.
For series 14, the format of the live shows was revised significantly: the finalists are divided into two groups, where the contestants in each group compete against each other on Saturday or Sunday to win that night's show; the two winning contestants competing against each other to win a weekly prize. The voting window has once again been shortened; in that viewers only have a few minutes to vote for their favourite acts after all the contestants on the night have performed.
Before the results are announced, there are live or pre-recorded performances from one or more invited celebrities, often with performers connected to the week's theme. From series 6 onwards, the results show begins with a group performance from the remaining contestants. However, the song is pre-recorded and the contestants mime, due to problems with the number of microphones. The two acts polling the fewest votes are revealed. Both these acts perform again in a "final showdown", and the judges vote on which of the two to send home. In the first four series the bottom two contestants reprised their earlier song, but from series 5 they were able to pick new songs. In series 3, a twist occurred where the act with the fewest votes was automatically eliminated, and the two with the next fewest votes performed in the "final showdown" as normal. Ties became possible with the introduction of a fourth judge in series 4. In the event of a tie the result goes to deadlock, and the act who came last in the public vote is sent home. The actual number of votes cast for each act is not revealed, nor even the order; according to a spokesman, "We would never reveal the voting figures during the competition as it could give contestants an unfair advantage and spoil the competition for viewers".
Once the number of contestants has been reduced to four (series 1, 3, 7, 8 and 9) or five (series 2, 4, 5 and 6), the act which polled the fewest votes is automatically eliminated from the competition (the judges do not have a vote; their only role is to comment on the performances). Two occasions in series 7 and series 10 during the semi-final saw the judges instead vote to send one of the bottom two through to the semi-final. In series 1, the eliminated acts also reprised one of their songs in the results show after being voted off. This has become less common in other series, instead being relegated to results shows with no final showdown.
In series 10, the flash vote was introduced: where one contestant is revealed with the fewest flash votes on Saturday's live show, and the contestant with the second lowest votes from the remaining public vote is announced on Sunday's results show and therefore participates in the final showdown with the other contestant. Despite the flash vote eliminating all possibilities of deadlock, it quickly drew criticism from viewers and was quickly dropped after several weeks. However, another variation of the flash vote has debuted in series 11 twice as part of a double elimination. In this variation, the act who polled the fewest votes on Saturday's show is automatically eliminated. The two acts with the next fewest votes on Sunday then perform in the final showdown. This double elimination variation was used once again in series 12.
A lifeline vote was introduced within the first half of the series 13 live shows, where the bottom three contestants are announced. Viewers are then given a few minutes to vote to save one of the bottom three, with the winner of the lifeline vote avoiding the final showdown.
As of series 14, the contestants are split into two halves competing on Saturday and Sunday night, respectively, therefore each week is a double elimination. As the results are announced, the contestant who had the lowest viewer votes on each night is announced and leaves the show immediately; the winning contestant is announced thereafter. The two winning contestants of both Saturday and Sunday night then compete in a sing-off to win their weekly prize. Once they have performed their sing-off songs, the lines then reopen and the public votes on which contestant to win the weekly prize.
After The X Factor
The winner of The X Factor is awarded a £1 million recording contract with Syco Music, in association with Sony Music. In series 5, this deal consisted of a £150,000 cash advance with the balance covering the costs of recording and marketing. Other highly placed contestants may also be offered recording deals, but this is not guaranteed. In series 1–3, the premise of The X Factor was that the winner would be managed in the industry by their mentor on the show. With Cowell, Osbourne and Walsh as judges/mentors, any of the three would be qualified to do so. Following the appointment of singer Minogue as a judge in series 4, the same principle could not universally apply. In fact, when Minogue won series 4 with Leon Jackson, a new outside manager was appointed.
The X Factor Live Tour is a live show that tours the UK and Ireland in the months following the conclusion of the series. It features an array of finalists and other memorable contestants from the most recent The X Factor series and is hosted by Jeff Brazier.
To date, 14 series have been broadcast, as summarised below.
Contestant in (or mentor of) "16–24s" category
Contestant in (or mentor of) "Boys" category
Contestant in (or mentor of) "Girls" category
Contestant in (or mentor of) "Overs", "Over 25s" or "Over 28s" category
Contestant in (or mentor of) "Groups" category
Contestant in (or mentor of) "Underdogs" category
|Series||Start||Finish||Winner||Runner-up||Third place||Winning mentor||Presenter(s)||Main judges||Guest judges||The Xtra Factor & other presenter(s)||UK sponsor|
|1||4 September 2004||11 December 2004||Steve Brookstein
|Simon Cowell||Kate Thornton||Simon Cowell
|2||20 August 2005||17 December 2005||Shayne Ward
|3||19 August 2006||16 December 2006||Leona Lewis
|Simon Cowell||Paula Abdul1|
|4||18 August 2007||15 December 2007||Leon Jackson
|Dannii Minogue||Dermot O'Leary||Simon Cowell
|Brian Friedman2||Fearne Cotton||The Carphone Warehouse|
|5||16 August 2008||13 December 2008||Alexandra Burke
|Cheryl Cole||Simon Cowell
|6||22 August 2009||13 December 2009||Joe McElderry
|7||21 August 2010||12 December 2010||Matt Cardle
|Dannii Minogue||Geri Halliwell3
|8||20 August 2011||11 December 2011||Little Mix
|Alexandra Burke4||Caroline Flack|
|9||18 August 2012||9 December 2012||James Arthur
|Nicole Scherzinger||Louis Walsh
|10||31 August 2013||15 December 2013||Sam Bailey
|Sharon Osbourne||Sharon Osbourne
|11||30 August 2014||14 December 2014||Ben Haenow
|Simon Cowell||Simon Cowell
|12||29 August 2015||13 December 2015||Louisa Johnson
|Reggie 'n' Bollie
|Rita Ora||Caroline Flack
|13||27 August 2016||11 December 2016||Matt Terry
|5 After Midnight
|Nicole Scherzinger||Dermot O'Leary||Simon Cowell
|Mel B9||Rylan Clark-Neal|
|14||2 September 2017||3 December 2017||Rak-Su
|Kevin Davy White
|Simon Cowell||Alesha Dixon10||Becca Dudley
- ^ Paula Abdul served as a guest judge for the London auditions.
- ^ Brian Friedman served as a guest judge for the London auditions following the departure of Louis Walsh, but was later reassigned the role of creative director and Walsh was reinstated. He was originally recruited to be a permanent judge.
- ^ a b c d e During the auditions and bootcamp, several guest judges served as temporary replacement for Dannii Minogue, who was unable to attend due to being pregnant. Geri Halliwell served as guest judge at the Glasgow auditions; Natalie Imbruglia at the Birmingham auditions; Katy Perry at the Dublin auditions; Pixie Lott at the Cardiff auditions; and Nicole Scherzinger at the Manchester auditions and bootcamp. Cheryl Cole was diagnosed with malaria after the Cardiff auditions therefore being unable to attend the Manchester auditions and bootcamp.
- ^ During week 4 of the live shows, Kelly Rowland was unable to travel back from Los Angeles as she had a throat infection. Alexandra Burke temporarily replaced her.
- ^ a b c d e f After Kelly Rowland's departure, Geri Halliwell (Liverpool), Leona Lewis (London), Rita Ora (London), Nicole Scherzinger (London), Mel B (Manchester) and Anastacia (Glasgow) all filled in as guest judges during the auditions until Scherzinger joined the judging panel as the fourth permanent judge for the final auditions in Newcastle and Cardiff.
- ^ During Series 9, Murs only presented during the live shows, due to him having touring commitments in America, so members of Westlife and Jedward helped Flack during the earlier stages.
- ^ Caroline Flack presented The Xtra Factor as well as serving as a backstage presenter during the live shows for the main show.
- ^ Tulisa served as a guest judge for the first night of week 10 of the live shows in place of Mel B who was ill.
- ^ Mel B served as a guest judge during the London auditions on 17 June 2016, in place of Scherzinger, who was unavailable, due to scheduling conflicts.
- ^ Dixon served as a guest judge for the first day of Manchester auditions, due to Scherzinger having a "previous diary commitment" and again in Edinburgh, this time for Osbourne, who was unavailable due to a long-standing back injury. Dixon returned again this time for Cowell in the second live shows.
- ^ Osbourne will only serve as a judge during the live shows.
Judges and presenters
From series 1–3, the X Factor judges were music executive and TV producer Simon Cowell, and music managers Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh, although Paula Abdul was a guest judge at the London auditions in series 3. On 8 March 2007, it was announced that Walsh would not be returning as a judge for series 4. On 4 June, it was confirmed that Brian Friedman, who was hired after impressing Cowell on his show Grease Is the Word, would be replacing Walsh, along with the news of Australian singer and Australia's Got Talent judge Dannii Minogue. On 22 June, it was confirmed that Friedman had been reassigned the role of creative director and would be replaced on the panel by Walsh. Minogue became the first female judge to win after her series 4 victory with Leon Jackson.
Speculation surrounded judging line-up changes for series 5, centering on whether Osbourne would return. On 6 June 2008, six days before filming for series 5 was due to begin, ITV confirmed that Osbourne had left the show, and a number of other artists and producers were approached regarding her replacement. On 10 June, Cheryl Cole was confirmed as Osbourne's replacement.
Due to Minogue's maternity leave during series 7, a series of guest judges filled in for her at the audition stages before she rejoined the panel in September. The guest judges were Geri Halliwell, Natalie Imbruglia, Katy Perry, Pixie Lott and Nicole Scherzinger. In July 2010, Cole was diagnosed with malaria towards the end of the auditions, so Scherzinger returned as a guest judge for bootcamp.
On 5 May 2011, it was confirmed that Cowell and Cole would not be returning to the judging panel for series 8, to concentrate on the American version of the programme. On 14 May, it was announced that Minogue would not be returning either. Of her decision, Minogue said "During discussions for me to return [to The X Factor] it became clear that unfortunately, this year, The X Factor audition dates in the UK clash with the live shows of Australia's Got Talent during June and July. For this reason I am unable to return.". After Cowell, Minogue and Cole announced their leave, a number of celebrities were linked with judging roles, including Frankie Sandford, Gary Barlow, Noel Gallagher, Nicole Scherzinger, Tulisa, Kelly Rowland and Alesha Dixon, though Dixon ruled herself out, due to her commitments with Strictly Come Dancing, she later joined Cowell's other show Britain's Got Talent. On 30 May, it was confirmed that Barlow, Rowland and Tulisa would join Walsh for series 8. On 29 and 30 October, Rowland was unable to travel back from Los Angeles as she had a throat infection, and was unable to judge the fourth week of the live shows, so series 5 winner Alexandra Burke took her place.
Barlow, Walsh and Tulisa returned for series 9. Rowland left due to other commitments. Geri Halliwell, Leona Lewis, Rita Ora, Nicole Scherzinger, Mel B and Anastacia all filled in as guest judges during the audition stage of the competition until a permanent judge was found. Scherzinger was confirmed as Rowland's replacement, and reappeared on the panel from the Newcastle auditions on a permanent basis.
On 21 May 2013, ending months of media speculation, Tulisa confirmed that she would not return as a judge for the 10th series. The following day, Osbourne's return to the show and appointment as Tulisa's replacement for series 10 was announced, along with confirmation of returning judges Walsh, Barlow and Scherzinger. Osbourne later confirmed in July that her return was not permanent, and that she would leave once more at the conclusion of series 10. Barlow announced during the first live show of series 10 that it would be his last series on the show.
On 7 February 2014, it was confirmed that Cowell would return as a judge for series 11. On 10 March, Cowell confirmed that Cole (then Fernandez-Versini) would return as a judge for the 11th series as a replacement for Osbourne. On 30 May, Walsh confirmed that he was returning for his 11th series. On 10 June, it was confirmed that Spice Girls member Mel B would join the panel as Scherzinger's replacement for the 11th series.
Cowell was confirmed to return as a judge for the 12th series. In April 2015, Walsh sighted his desire to quit the show and return to management, and that it would take serious thought for him to return for the series' 12th series. He also revealed that he was in the dark about whom Cowell had the intentions of bringing onto the panel. On 14 May 2015, Walsh confirmed his exit from the series, stating, "The truth is I've done it for 11 years; I never thought I would even be on TV for four or five. To get 10 was great, to get 11 was amazing - I'm not hanging around for them this year." On 16 June, it was announced that Cheryl would return to the panel, alongside new judges radio personality Nick Grimshaw and series 9 guest judge, Rita Ora, who was previously a coach on the rival show, The Voice UK.
On 18 February 2016, a series representative announced Grimshaw's departure from the judging panel, confirming: "We are sad to see him go but wish him all the best." On 5 April 2016, Cheryl announced her departure from the series, choosing instead to concentrate on her music career. On 10 May, Ora confirmed she would not return for the 13th series of the show. On 1 June 2016, the line-up for series 13 was confirmed as Cowell, Scherzinger, Osbourne and Walsh. In December 2016, Walsh confirmed we would continue to judge the series through 2018, stating he had signed through "the next two years". That same month, both Osbourne and Scherzinger cast doubt on their return, with Osbourne citing her dual-work on The Talk, and Scherzinger stating: "I can't confirm that I'm going to [be back] but I think if I did return it would have to be with this panel because I'm really close with this panel. [...] I've really enjoyed myself and we're really close." On 13 April 2017, Cowell announced his intentions to retain the same judging panel for the fourteenth series. In June 2017, it was announced that the judging panel would remain the same as the previous series. On 7 June 2018, ITV announced Cowell would return to the show, with long-running judge, Walsh, announcing his departure; Osbourne announced that she would only be part of the show's live episodes, becoming the series' first-ever fifth judge. On 17 July 2018, Robbie Williams and his wife, Ayda Field, along with former One Direction contestant, Louis Tomlinson were announced to be joining the series' judging panel.
Simon Cowell (2004–2010, 2014–)
Sharon Osbourne (2004–2007, 2013, 2016–)
Louis Walsh (2004–2014, 2016–2017)
Dannii Minogue (2007–2010)
Cheryl (2008–2010, 2014–2015)
Gary Barlow (2011–2013)
Kelly Rowland (2011)
Nicole Scherzinger (2012–2013, 2016–2017)
Mel B (2014)
Nick Grimshaw (2015)
Rita Ora (2015)
Louis Tomlinson (2018–)
Robbie Williams (2018–)
Ayda Field (2018–)
Presenters and other personnel
The first three series of the show were hosted by Kate Thornton. She was replaced from series 4 by Dermot O'Leary who signed a contract worth £1 million to present two series of the programme on ITV. O'Leary was not forced to leave the Big Brother franchise and continued to present Big Brother sister shows during summer 2007, but he later announced that Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack was to be his last Big Brother hosting role so that he could focus on presenting The X Factor. In 2013, Caroline Flack became a backstage presenter for the live shows on Saturdays. On 27 March 2015, O'Leary announced that he was quitting the show in order to pursue other projects. On 16 April 2015, ITV confirmed that both Olly Murs and Flack would take over presenting duties, becoming the first duo to host the show. On 21 February 2016, during an interview with The Sun, Murs confirmed his decision to quit the series in order to focus on his music. In a statement, Murs stated, "This was an incredibly hard decision to make and one I didn't take lightly as I've really enjoyed co-hosting The X Factor." Following Murs' decision to exit the series, Flack confirmed she would exit as well, stating, "I have had a brilliant time working on The X Factor over the last few years, and hosting the main show was just fantastic - I made some amazing friends." On 29 March 2016, O'Leary announced his return to the series, stating he was "very flattered to be asked back" and that he was also "really looking forward" to returning as host.
Friedman served as performance coach and choreographer (billed as "Creative Director") from series 4–7 and left before series 8 to join the American version. Brian Burke and Elizabeth Honan replaced him for series 8, although Friedman returned for three weeks in series 9 and Honan did not return. For series 10, Burke was replaced by Jerry Reeve and Mark "Swany" Swanhart. Friedman returned as creative director in series 11, replacing Reeve and Swanhart. Yvie Burnett has been The X Factor's vocal coach since series 2, but was replaced in series 7 by Ali Tennant and Savan Kotecha. However, Tennant's contract was ended before the live shows and Burnett was reinstated. In series 7, Richard "Biff" Stannard started work as show song producer for Minogue's contestants, and Grace Woodward joined the series as Fashion Director. Voice-overs are provided by Peter Dickson and Enn Reitel. Dickson announced his departure from the show on 28 July 2015, but announced his return due to "popular demand" on 30 October 2015.
For information about The Xtra Factor presenters, see The Xtra Factor below.
Judges' categories and their finalists
In each series, each judge is allocated a category to mentor and chooses a small number of acts (three or four, depending on the series) to progress to the live finals. From series 1-11 and 13 onwards, these categories were decided by the producers of the show. In series 12 viewers voted via hashtags on Twitter to determine which of the judges is allocated each of the four categories. This table shows, for each series, which category each judge was allocated and which acts he or she put through to the live finals.
- – Winning judge/category. Winners are in bold, eliminated contestants in small font.
Ratings and awards
Viewing figures of around 10 million were claimed for series 2 and 4, and 11 to 12 million for series 5. Over three million public votes were cast in series 2 and six million in the first part of the final. The series 3 final attracted 8 million votes and a peak of 12.6 million viewers. The series 4 final drew 12.7 million viewers – a 55% share of the terrestrial TV audience. In series 5, 12.8 million tuned in to see show of 29 November 2008 featuring guest Britney Spears, a new X Factor record. The series 5 final peaked with 14.6 million viewers. The series 6 final was watched by 19.1 million viewers (a 63.2% audience share) with 10 million votes cast and the series 7 final topped this, attracting 19.4 million viewers with over 15 million votes cast, but the series 8 final was a large drop from this, with 13.456 million viewers. Series 10 ended with the live final bringing in average viewer figures of just 8.5 million - considerably down from previous years.
The BBC's rival talent show Strictly Come Dancing initially beat The X Factor in viewing figures in 2004, although The X Factor soon reversed this trend, and when the shows went head-to-head for the first time,[when?] The X Factor attracted a larger audience share. It was the first format (along with Britain's Got Talent) in years to knock Coronation Street off the top.
Since 2011, however, ratings of The X Factor have been in sharp decline. It was overtaken in the rating battle by Strictly Come Dancing during series 8 and has since very rarely managed to beat it, with Strictly Come Dancing extending its lead over the show per year. In 2016, The X Factor was beaten head-to-head in some live shows by other BBC programmes, such as Michael McIntyre's Big Show and Planet Earth II. The ratings crisis has worsened in the following year with the show recording its lowest ever figures and Strictly Come Dancing now enjoying nearly three times the audience figures of The X Factor in most weeks.
At the 2005 British Comedy Awards, The X Factor beat Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway to take the award for Best Comedy Entertainment Programme, prompting Cowell to remark "We're not a comedy programme, we're a serious factual drama". In both 2005 and 2006, The X Factor won the award for "Most Popular Entertainment Programme" at the National Television Awards. At the same awards in 2007, the show also won the award for "Most Popular Talent Show". In 2008 it lost out to Strictly Come Dancing at the TV Quick Awards, TRIC Awards and National Television Awards,[clarification needed] despite beating it in the ratings. In 2010, The X Factor won "Best Talent Show" at the National Television Awards.
The show won the Entertainment award at the 2010 Royal Television Society Awards, described as "Undeniably a brilliant, genre-defining piece of television; the team behind this show never rest on their laurels and are determined to continually raise the bar and set new standards. Must-see television, which everyone talks about on a Monday morning." At the 2011 National Television Awards, The X Factor won the Talent Show award, beating Strictly Come Dancing, Britain's Got Talent and Dancing on Ice. At the 2012 National Television Awards, The X Factor again beat Strictly Come Dancing, Britain's Got Talent and Dancing on Ice to the award. The show also won Best UK TV Show at the 2012 Kids' Choice Awards. At the 2015 National Television Awards, The X Factor won Best Talent Show for the first time in three years, beating Strictly Come Dancing, Britain's Got Talent and The Voice UK.
Over the first seven series the show's viewing figures have generally trended up each series, however this was not the case for series 3. Since series 8, viewing figures have declined year on year, with the average audience figure for series 14 being nearly 2 million lower than the previous year. Viewing figure information is provided by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB).
|Series||Series premiere||Series finale||Episodes
(inc. results shows)
|Average UK viewers|
(inc. results shows)
|1||4 September 2004||11 December 2004||24||7.40|
|2||20 August 2005||17 December 2005||30||8.73|
|3||19 August 2006||16 December 2006||30||8.27|
|4||18 August 2007||15 December 2007||28||8.57|
|5||16 August 2008||13 December 2008||30||10.51|
|6||22 August 2009||13 December 2009||30||13.00|
|7||21 August 2010||12 December 2010||30||14.13|
|8||20 August 2011||11 December 2011||31||12.41|
|9||18 August 2012||9 December 2012||31||9.63|
|10||31 August 2013||15 December 2013||32||9.45|
|11||30 August 2014||14 December 2014||34||8.65|
|12||29 August 2015||13 December 2015||28||7.85|
|13||27 August 2016||11 December 2016||32||7.71|
|14||2 September 2017||3 December 2017||28||6.52|
|15||August 2018||December 2018||TBA||TBA|
Controversies and criticism
From the outset, The X Factor has attracted heavy criticism. Recurring allegations include: that the excessive commercialism of the show detracts from its supposed purpose of unearthing musical talent and even actively damages and distorts the UK music industry; that auditionees at mass auditions are shabbily treated; that controversy is deliberately courted and orchestrated, and supposedly spontaneous scenes are staged and scripted; that problems with phone lines leave members of the public unable to vote for their favourite acts; and that contestants are manipulated and unfairly edited.
This criticism became very public in 2009 when a Facebook campaign targeted against The X Factor and its effect on British music took "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine to the Christmas number one spot at the expense of the X Factor winner's single by Joe McElderry.
The first series was only available to Irish viewers through the Northern Ireland-based ITV station UTV, which is widely available in the Republic, but subsequent series have also been shown on the Irish terrestrial TV station TV3.
Series 1–4 of The X Factor effectively included Irish viewers on an equal footing, and Irish viewers were able to vote in these series via SMS or telephone. However, in series 5, voting from Republic of Ireland was discontinued, with the decision being blamed on new regulations introduced regarding phone competitions in the UK. In 2010 TV3 announced that Irish viewers would only be able to vote using voting numbers posted online once the live shows start. These numbers change weekly.
The show held auditions in Dublin and Belfast for the first three series, with Belfast auditions continuing for series 4 before being dropped, though Irish singers could still audition in other cities. Dublin first round auditions returned in 2010 with the auditions held on 28 June. In 2011, The X Factor did not hold auditions in Ireland, instead replacing them with a new audition city, Liverpool. A source from The X Factor said: "There are only so many places we can go for auditions. We went to Dublin last year but we haven't been to Liverpool so we thought we should do it this year. Obviously this is a blow to the Irish contestants but it's only a short hop across the Irish Sea to Liverpool." Auditions did return to Dublin in 2014, however.
Irish contestants have reached the live shows in series 1 (Tabby Callaghan and Roberta Howett), series 2 (The Conway Sisters), series 6 (John & Edward and Azi Jegbefume in girl group Kandy Rain), series 7 (Mary Byrne, Rebecca Creighton of girl group Belle Amie and Niall Horan of boy band One Direction), series 11 (Chris Leonard of boy band Stereo Kicks) and series 14 (Sean & Conor Price). Northern Irish finalists have included Phillip Magee (series 2), Eoghan Quigg (series 5), and Janet Devlin (series 8).
Winners of The X Factor reached the top of Ireland's Christmas chart every year from 2006 to 2013.
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|Canada||CHEK-DT, Yes TV, Family Channel (29 July 2015)|
|United States||AXS TV|
|Singapore||Mediacorp Channel 5|
|Southeast Asia||RTL CBS Entertainment|
The Xtra Factor Live
|The Xtra Factor Live|
|Also known as||The Xtra Factor|
|Created by||Simon Cowell|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||13|
|No. of episodes||359|
|Running time||30–80 minutes (including advert breaks)|
|Original release||4 September 2004– 11 December 2016|
|Related shows||The X Factor|
The Xtra Factor Live (previously The Xtra Factor from 2004–15) was a companion show that was broadcast on sister channel ITV2 and on TV3 in the Republic of Ireland, usually on Saturday and Sunday nights after the main ITV show from 4 September 2004 to 11 December 2016. The commissioning of The Xtra Factor was prompted by the success of Big Brother's Little Brother, a former Big Brother companion show screened on E4.
The Xtra Factor featured extra auditions, bootcamp performances and judges' houses performances and behind-the-scenes footage. There where sometimes competitions and games featuring the judges and presenters. During the live shows the programme featured behind-the-scenes footage and answered live video and phone calls for the judges and contestants. Facebook statuses and tweets were read out as well. It also showed the emotional responses of the contestants after the judges comment on their performances. A celebrity panel was usually featured, who gave their opinions on the contestants.
Voiceovers from series 1–6 were done by Peter Dickson, and by Brian Blessed in series 7. Dickson returned in series 8 and continued his role until the show ended after series 13. Redd Pepper only featured in one episode – series 12’s judges houses.
The Xtra Factor usually aired on ITV2 directly after the ITV broadcast of The X Factor. Therefore, from series 1 to 5, The Xtra Factor aired once a week. From Series 6, with the introduction of the Sunday results show, The Xtra Factor aired twice a week, during weeks that there were two episodes of The X Factor.
In series 12, initially The Xtra Factor aired directly after every show (Saturday and Sunday for the first four weeks during the auditions, then every Sunday for the next five weeks during bootcamp and the six-chair challenge, before returning to both Saturday and Sundays, live for judges' houses). From the live shows, the Saturday episode was replaced by a live episode on Thursdays for the remainder of the series, starting on 29 October 2015. For series 13, it reverted to airing directly after each ITV broadcast of The X Factor, though the episode after the live performance shows was 30 minutes long instead of an hour.
Up to the live shows, episodes of The Xtra Factor were pre-recorded, and during the live shows, they were broadcast live from Fountain Studios, however, for series 13, The Xtra Factor became The Xtra Factor Live which aired live from The Hospital Club after every show over the course of the series from the auditions to the finals.
On 18 January 2017, it was announced that The Xtra Factor would be axed after 13 years and would be replaced by an online show instead.
Until series 3, The Xtra Factor was hosted by Ben Shephard. Shephard did not return for series 4 after being upset at not getting the main ITV presenting job, and Fearne Cotton took over as presenter, for series 4 only, before leaving the show to concentrate on her career in America. Allegations of a falling-out with Cowell were also reported. For series 5, Cotton was replaced by presenter and close friend Holly Willoughby. Willoughby first presented The Xtra Factor on 9 August 2008, a week before series 5 was broadcast. Konnie Huq replaced Willoughby as the new Xtra Factor presenter for series 7. However, Huq decided to depart from the series in March 2011 because of work commitments.
On 31 May 2011, Caroline Flack and Olly Murs were confirmed as the new co-presenters for series 8 by The X Factor's official Twitter page. Both Flack and Murs returned in 2012, however, due to touring in America with One Direction, Murs only presented the live shows though he did recorded interviews with the contestants earlier in the series, while guest presenters such as Jedward and Westlife helped Flack with the audition stages. In April 2013, it was confirmed that Murs would not be returning for series 10 as he wished to concentrate on his own music career. Comedian Matt Richardson was later announced to replace Murs. On 4 June 2014, it was announced that Richardson would not return as co-presenter for series 11. Flack confirmed on 11 June 2014 that she would not be returning to present the 11th series of The Xtra Factor. The next day, it was confirmed that Sarah-Jane Crawford would replace Flack and Richardson as presenter. On 11 May 2015, Crawford confirmed via Twitter that she would not return for a second series in 2015.
On 18 June 2015, it was confirmed that The Saturdays singer Rochelle Humes and Kiss FM DJ Melvin Odoom would be the hosts. On 27 June 2016, it was confirmed that Matt Edmondson would be the host of The Xtra Factor. It was confirmed on 1 July 2016 that Rylan Clark-Neal would co-host alongside Edmondson. The same day, it was announced that Roman Kemp would join the show as the new digital online presenter and social media reporter.. In January 2017, The Xtra Factor was axed by ITV and hasn't returned.
Spin-offs and specials
Cameras follow the finalists during their day, and in early series some of the footage was aired in a spin-off show called The Xtra Factor: The Aftermath, which was broadcast in the middle of the week on ITV2. The Xtra Factor: Xcess All Areas was a live show in which there were interviews, games and trips around the contestants' homes. The show also let viewers know which songs the contestants would be singing in the next live show. Both shows were axed after series 3 due to ITV2 cutting back on spin-off programing. For the series 12 live shows, both formats were revived under a single Thursday night live edition of The Xtra Factor as a replacement for the Saturday edition.
Until Series 10, after the series has come to an end, The Xtra Factor has a week of special programmes titled Best and Worst, featuring the best and worst auditions from the previous series, ranging from one to five episodes each year.
A 60-minute special titled The Winner's Story is broadcast each year over the festive period, featuring the winner of that year's X Factor. Cameras follow the winner from the announcement of the result through the lead-up to the Christmas number one. As from 2010, one week before each series due to start, there features a special called X Factor Rewind looking back at the previous year's contestants and what happened to them during The X Factor and what has happened to them since the show ended. In Series 12, these programmes aired in late afternoon slots on weekends. They started two weeks before the show began, and finished the day the show started, for the first time on ITV. In 2016, the same format was used, but with only 2 episodes, and airing on ITV2.
Xtra Bites is the second companion and spin-off show to The X Factor which replaced The Xtra Factor, although Xtra Bites is an online spin-off show which started airing in 2017. The show looks at all the action from the show including behind the scenes footage of the judges and interviews with contestants from the show. It is uploaded onto ITV Hub, the show’s YouTube channel, and the X Factor page on the Just Eat’s website. There were 13 episodes uploaded altogether for the first series, all presented by Becca Dudley.
The X Factor: Battle of the Stars
The X Factor: Battle of the Stars was a celebrity special edition of The X Factor, which screened on ITV, starting on 29 May 2006 and lasting for eight consecutive nights. Pop Idol was intended to be broadcast in its place as Celebrity Pop Idol but was stopped shortly before transmission, when ITV selected The X Factor instead.
Nine celebrity acts participated, singing live in front of the nation and facing the judges of the previous The X Factor series: Cowell, Osbourne and Walsh. Voting revenues were donated to the celebrities' chosen charities.
The contestants were Michelle Marsh, Nikki Sanderson, Matt Stevens, Lucy Benjamin, Gillian McKeith, Chris Moyles, Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, James Hewitt and Rebecca Loos, and "The Chefs", a quartet of celebrity chefs comprising Jean-Christophe Novelli, Aldo Zilli, Paul Rankin and Ross Burden. The winner of the show was Benjamin, mentored by Walsh.
It was reported on 26 August 2006 that Cowell had decided not to do a second edition, describing it as "pointless" and adding "we are never going to do it again".
Music releases by The X Factor contestants
As of June 2015[update], the show has spawned a total of 35 number-one singles: 10 winners' singles (six of which have been the Christmas number one), four charity singles (one each by the finalists of series 5, 6, 7 and 8), and 21 other number-ones by contestants who have appeared on the show (including winners and runners-up).
By series 6 in 2009, it had seemingly become such a certainty that the X Factor winner would gain the Christmas number one slot every year that bookmakers William Hill were considering withdrawing from the 30-year tradition of betting on the outcome. However, hostility to the show's stranglehold on the Christmas number one slot from some quarters had prompted attempts to propel an alternative song to the 2008 Christmas number one spot, and in 2009 a similar internet-led campaign was successful, taking Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name" to Christmas number one at the expense of The X Factor winner Joe McElderry. McElderry's single climbed to the top of the chart a week later.
In series 1–2, the winner's debut album would be released a few months after their victory in the show. The album would contain some new material but would consist largely of cover versions. This format changed with series 3 winner Leona Lewis. Cowell, Lewis's X Factor mentor and newly appointed manager, said: "We could have gone into the studio for a month, made the record quick, and thrown it out. It would have been the wrong thing to do." The success of Lewis's debut album Spirit ensured that the debut albums of future series winners (such as series 4 winner Leon Jackson) would consist more of new material than of cover versions. Series 10 winner Sam Bailey, however, released her debut album of covers, The Power of Love, in March 2014, just three months after winning - the earliest ever debut album release by an X Factor winner.
During the fifth series of the show, the finalists released a cover of Mariah Carey's "Hero" in aid of Help for Heroes which reached number one in the UK singles charts. Following the success of the song, Cowell announced that a charity single would be released annually (though the process was discontinued in series 9). He is quoted as saying: "Following last year's record we made with the X Factor finalists in aid of Help for Heroes, we decided we wanted to do something annually on the show to help good causes."
In 2011, the finalists released Rose Royce's "Wishing on a Star" and the proceeds were donated to Together for Short Lives. This song features previous contestants JLS and One Direction. In 2012, it was announced that the winner's single would also be the charity single.
The charity single was scrapped after series 8, although the winner's singles from series 9 onwards were all released for charity.
(X Factor Finalists 2008)
|1||1||Help for Heroes|
|2009||"You Are Not Alone"
(X Factor Finalists 2009)
|1||1||Great Ormond Street Hospital|
(X Factor Finalists 2010)
|1||1||Help for Heroes|
|2011||"Wishing on a Star"
(X Factor Finalists 2011 featuring JLS and One Direction)
|1||1||Together for Short Lives|
(James Arthur – series 9 winner's single)
(Sam Bailey – series 10 winner's single)
|1||1||Together for Short Lives|
Great Ormond Street Hospital
|2014||"Something I Need"
(Ben Haenow – series 11 winner's single)
|1||2||Together for Short Lives|
(Louisa Johnson – series 12 winner's single)
|2016||"When Christmas Comes Around"
(Matt Terry – series 13 winner's single)
|3||28||Together for Short Lives|
Shooting Star Chase
(Rak-Su featuring Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy – series 14 winner's single)
The X Factor – The Greatest Hits
|1.||"Troublemaker" (Olly Murs featuring Flo Rida)||Steve Robson||3:03|
|2.||"Everybody in Love" (JLS)||3:16|
|3.||"Little Things" (One Direction)||Jake Gosling||3:39|
|4.||"Run (Single Mix)" (Leona Lewis)||Steve Robson||4:39|
|5.||"Cannonball" (Little Mix)||Damien Rice||3:25|
|6.||"Hallelujah" (Alexandra Burke)||Leonard Cohen||Quiz & Larossi||3:39|
|7.||"You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You" (James Arthur)||TMS||3:20|
|8.||"That's My Goal" (Shayne Ward)||3:40|
|9.||"With Ur Love" (Cher Lloyd featuring Mike Posner)||Shellback||3:46|
|10.||"Backtrack" (Rebecca Ferguson)||3:07|
|11.||"Seven Nation Army" (Marcus Collins)||Jack White||2:56|
|12.||"Run for Your Life" (Matt Cardle)||Gary Barlow||Gary Barlow||4:08|
|13.||"Home Run" (Misha B)||3:20|
|14.||"Lighthouse" (Lucy Spraggan)||3:21|
|15.||"Is This Love" (Aiden Grimshaw)||Jarrad Rogers||3:25|
|16.||"Ambitions" (Joe McElderry)||2:57|
|17.||"Titanium" (Jahméne Douglas)||3:52|
The X Factor Songbook
The X Factor Songbook is a 60-song compilation album released 24 November 2014.
|1.||"Make You Feel My Love"||Adele||3:32|
|3.||"Stay with Me"||Sam Smith||2:52|
|4.||"All of Me"||John Legend||2:59|
|6.||"The A Team"||Ed Sheeran||4:18|
|7.||"Story of My Life" (Radio Edit)||One Direction||3:38|
|8.||"The One That Got Away"||Katy Perry||3:46|
|9.||"Fight for This Love"||Cheryl Cole||3:42|
|10.||"Just Give Me a Reason"||Pink featuring Nate Ruess||4:02|
|11.||"I Will Never Let You Down"||Rita Ora||3:23|
|12.||"All About That Bass"||Meghan Trainor||3:07|
|13.||"Only Love Can Hurt Like This"||Paloma Faith||3:52|
|14.||"Beneath Your Beautiful"||Labrinth featuring Emeli Sandé||3:56|
|15.||"Fallin'" (Radio Edit)||Alicia Keys||3:15|
|16.||"Say Something"||A Great Big World||3:49|
|17.||"Change Your Life" (Single Mix)||Little Mix||3:21|
|18.||"My Heart Will Go On"||Celine Dion||5:08|
|19.||"I Didn't Know My Own Strength"||Whitney Houston||3:39|
|20.||"Run" (Single Mix)||Leona Lewis||4:40|
|3.||"Dance with Me Tonight"||Olly Murs||3:22|
|4.||"Locked Out of Heaven"||Bruno Mars||3:52|
|5.||"Hall of Fame"||The Script featuring will.i.am||3:21|
|6.||"Moves Like Jagger"||Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera||3:21|
|7.||"She Makes Me Wanna"||JLS featuring Dev||3:39|
|8.||"I Want You Back"||Melanie B featuring Missy Elliott||3:26|
|9.||"Bad Boys"||Alexandra Burke featuring Flo Rida||3:26|
|10.||"A Moment Like This"||Kelly Clarkson||3:46|
|11.||"Your Song"||Ellie Goulding||3:08|
|12.||"Nothing's Real but Love"||Rebecca Ferguson||2:51|
|15.||"Un-Break My Heart"||Toni Braxton||4:05|
|16.||"A Thousand Years"||Christina Perri||3:58|
|18.||"Valerie"||Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse||3:36|
|19.||"Hey, Soul Sister"||Train||3:36|
|1.||"Back for Good"||Take That||4:02|
|2.||"Read All About It, Pt. III"||Emeli Sandé||4:43|
|3.||"Back to Black" (Radio Edit)||Amy Winehouse||3:12|
|4.||"Leave Right Now"||Will Young||3:30|
|6.||"The Climb"||Miley Cyrus||3:51|
|7.||"I Believe I Can Fly"||R. Kelly||3:15|
|8.||"I Can't Make You Love Me"||George Michael||5:20|
|9.||"Dance with My Father" (Radio Version)||Luther Vandross||4:25|
|10.||"Flying Without Wings"||Westlife||3:34|
|11.||"All by Myself" (Remastered)||Eric Carmen||4:31|
|12.||"Eternal Flame"||The Bangles||3:55|
|15.||"How You Remind Me"||Nickelback||3:41|
|16.||"Don't Stop Believin'"||Journey||4:10|
|17.||"Wherever You Will Go"||The Calling||3:27|
|18.||"How to Save a Life" (Single Mix)||The Fray||3:59|
|19.||"Many of Horror"||Biffy Clyro||4:17|
- Series 1: The X Factor Revealed: The Greatest Auditions Ever (2005)
- Series 2: The X Factor: The Greatest Auditions Ever (2006)
- Series 3: The X Factor Revealed (2007)
- Series 4: The X Factor – interactive DVD game (2007)
- Series 4: The X Factor Sing – karaoke console game (2007)
- Series 5: The X Factor: The Board Game (2009)
- Series 5: Top Trumps X Factor – card game (2008)
- Series 7: The X Factor – karaoke console game (2010)
- Series 1–3: The X Factor: Access All Areas (2007)
- Series 6: The X Factor Annual (2009)
- Series 7: The X Factor Annual (2010)
- Series 7: The Xtra Factor Annual (2010)
- Series 8: The X Factor Annual (2011)
- X Magazine – weekly publication to accompany the seventh series in 2010.
The X Factor brand has also appeared on clothing, jewellery, perfume, make-up, toiletries, bedding, gifts, confectionery, soft drinks and pizzas. The Sun newspaper reported that the parents of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge were using The X Factor's logo without permission to publicise party accessories sold through their mail-order business.
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