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The X Factor
File:The X Factor logo.jpg
GenreReality television
Created bySimon Cowell
Directed byPhil Heyes
Creative directors
  • Brian Friedman
  • Brian Burke
  • Elizabeth Honan
  • Jerry Reeve
  • Mark "Swany" Swanhart

Presented by

  • Simon Cowell
  • Sharon Osbourne
  • Louis Walsh
  • Dannii Minogue
  • Brian Friedman
  • Cheryl Fernandez-Versini
  • Gary Barlow
  • Kelly Rowland
  • Tulisa
  • Nicole Scherzinger
  • Mel B
  • Nick Grimshaw
  • Rita Ora

Voices ofPeter Dickson
Redd Pepper
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series13
No. of episodes390
Executive producers
  • Simon Cowell
  • Richard Holloway
  • Beth Hart
  • Mark Sidaway
  • Cheryl Fernandez-Versini[1]
Production locations
  • Various (auditions)
  • Fountain Studios (live shows 2004–16)[2]
  • The SSE Arena, Wembley (live final 2011, 2013–)
  • Manchester Central (live final 2012)
Running time60–150 minutes
Production companies
  • Syco Entertainment
  • Thames (2012–)
  • Talkback Thames (2004–11)
Original networkITV
Picture format
  • HDTV: 1080i (2010–)
  • SDTV: 576i (2004–09)
Original release4 September 2004 (2004-09-04) –
present (present)
The Xtra Factor
The X Factor (Australia)
The X Factor (U.S.)

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The X Factor is a British reality television music competition to find new singing talent, contested by 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 TV. It is broadcast on the ITV network in the UK and simulcast on TV3 in Ireland. The "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 from Series 1 until Series 13 when it was cancelled by ITV in January 2017

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 replaced Walsh in series 4, which also saw Dannii Minogue join the panel. Friedman left during the auditions and Walsh replaced Friedman. Cheryl Cole replaced Osbourne in series 5. Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa joined the panel in series 8 as replacements for Cowell, Minogue, and Cole. Rowland left before series 9 and was replaced by Nicole Scherzinger. Osbourne returned to the panel in series 10, replacing Tulisa. Cowell and Cole (now Fernandez-Versini) returned to replace Barlow and Osbourne in series 11, while Mel B replaced Scherzinger. In series 12, Mel B and Walsh were replaced by Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw. In series 13, Walsh, Osbourne and Scherzinger returned, replacing Grimshaw, Fernandez-Versini and Ora. The first three series were presented by Kate Thornton, then from the fourth to 11th series, the show was presented by Dermot O'Leary, he then returned from the 13th series. In series 12, the show was presented by Caroline Flack and Olly Murs. Also, in series 10, Flack served as a backstage presenter during the Saturday night live shows. Roman Kemp will begin serving as the digital presenter of the show in series 13. 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 13 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 and Matt Terry. 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.[3] 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, with all of them (bar McElderry in 2009) reaching the top spot. As of November 2016, 41 number-one singles have been achieved by artists who have appeared on the show, such as Lewis, Burke, JLS, Olly Murs, Cher Lloyd, One Direction and Little Mix.

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.[4] The sixth series attracted 200,000 auditionees[5] and peaked at 19.7 million UK viewers (a 63.2% audience share).[6] More than 10 million votes were cast in the sixth series final.[7]


The X Factor was created by Sony Music A&R judge Simon Cowell as a replacement for Pop Idol.[8] Cowell, who was a judge on Pop Idol, wished to launch a show to which he owned the television rights.[8] Pop Idol's first series was massively successful, and while the second series was also successful, the viewing figures for its finale dropped.[9] Some—including Cowell's fellow Pop Idol judge Pete Waterman[10] considered Michelle McManus an unworthy winner.[10] In 2004, ITV announced a new show created by Cowell, with no involvement from Pop Idol creator Simon FullerThe X Factor.[8] The perceived similarity between the two shows later became the subject of a legal dispute.[11]

On 15 November 2013, ITV announced that Cowell had signed a three-year contract renewing The X Factor until 2016.[12] On 16 September 2016, it was announced that ITV had signed another three-year contract to renew the show until 2019.[13]



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."[8]

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.[14] It was changed back to Over 25s for series 8,[15] before reverting to Over 28s in series 9.[16] In series 10, it became the Over 25s again.[17] 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.


There are six 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), an arena (series 6–9, 12), or both (series 10–11)
  • Stage 3: Bootcamp – either a series of challenges and knock out rounds (series 1–9), the six-chair challenge (series 10–11), or both (series 12–)
  • Stage 4: 6 Chair Challenge - pre-recorded where the judges choose 6 contestants that match their category to move on to judges houses
  • Stage 5: Judges' houses – either pre-recorded (series 1–11, 13) or live (series 12)
  • Stage 6: Live shows (finals)


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.[18] 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.[18] 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.[18] Only candidates who successfully pass that second and third auditions are invited to perform to the judges.[18] The televised version misrepresents the process by implying that the entire huge crowds all perform to the judges.[18]

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")[19] – 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.[20] In series 12, the room auditions were axed, with only the arena auditions taking place.[21]

Over 50,000 people auditioned for series 1,[22] around 75,000 for series 2[23] and around 100,000 for series 3.[24] The number of applicants for series 4 reached 150,000,[25] 182,000[26] people auditioned for series 5, and a record 200,000 people applied for series 6.[5] Series 7 applicants were given the opportunity to apply by uploading a video audition to the Internet.[27] In series 9, for the first time, applicants could audition online via Facebook.[28] 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.[29]

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.[30] During these stages, the producers allocate each of the judges a category to mentor. In 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 and 10, the judges give feedback to the acts in the first stage and immediately decide who to send through. 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 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.[31][32] In series 7 and 8, a total of 32 acts went through to judges' houses, giving each judge eight acts instead of six.[14]

From series 10 onwards, the format to bootcamp was changed: the judges find out their categories before bootcamp starts and then after the group allocation round, challenge 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.[33] 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.[34]

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[35] 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,[36] received significant press coverage when it was mobbed by fans, leading to the police being called.[37] This led to concerns by the neighbours of the 2010 house in Hyver Hill, Mill Hill[38] that it would receive similar attention,[39] with a local farmer worried his land would be damaged,[40] but local businesses were said to be looking forward to increased trade.[41] The 2011 residence, Connaught House in Hertford Heath had cameras installed for filming.[42] In 2012, the finalists stayed at the Corinthia Hotel in London.[43]

Live shows[]

File:The Fountain Studios.JPG

Entrance to Fountain Studios

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 are filmed at Fountain Studios in Wembley, London. 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.[14] 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. 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.


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.


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.[44] 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".[45]

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 least 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 least votes on Saturday's show is automatically eliminated. The two acts with the next fewest votes on Sunday then perform in the final showdown.

After The X Factor[]

File:Joe McElderry (Live X Factor Tour).jpg

Joe McElderry, winner of series 6, performing on The X Factor Live tour in 2010

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.[3] Other highly placed contestants may also be offered recording deals, but this is not guaranteed.[3] 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.

Series overview[]

To date, 13 series have been broadcast, as summarised below.

<templatestyles src="Legend/styles.css" />  Contestant in (or mentor of) "16–24s" category
<templatestyles src="Legend/styles.css" />  Contestant in (or mentor of) "Boys" category
<templatestyles src="Legend/styles.css" />  Contestant in (or mentor of) "Girls" category
<templatestyles src="Legend/styles.css" />  Contestant in (or mentor of) "Overs", "Over 25s" or "Over 28s" category
<templatestyles src="Legend/styles.css" />  Contestant in (or mentor of) "Groups" category

Series Start Finish Winner Runner-up Third place Winning mentor Presenter(s) UK sponsor Main judges Guest judges The Xtra Factor presenter(s)
1 4 September 2004 11 December 2004 Steve Brookstein
Over 25s
Tabby Callaghan
Simon Cowell Kate Thornton Nokia[46] Simon Cowell
Sharon Osbourne
Louis Walsh
N/A Ben Shephard
2 20 August 2005 17 December 2005 Shayne Ward
Andy Abraham
Over 25s
Journey South
Louis Walsh
3 19 August 2006 16 December 2006 Leona Lewis
Ray Quinn
Ben Mills
Over 25s
Simon Cowell Paula Abdul1
4 18 August 2007 15 December 2007 Leon Jackson
Rhydian Roberts
Same Difference
Dannii Minogue Dermot O'Leary The Carphone Warehouse[46] Simon Cowell
Sharon Osbourne
Louis Walsh2
Dannii Minogue
Brian Friedman2 Fearne Cotton
5 16 August 2008 13 December 2008 Alexandra Burke
Eoghan Quigg
Cheryl Cole Simon Cowell
Louis Walsh
Dannii Minogue
Cheryl Cole
N/A Holly Willoughby
6 22 August 2009 13 December 2009 Joe McElderry
Olly Murs
Over 25s
Stacey Solomon
Cheryl Cole TalkTalk[47]
7 21 August 2010 12 December 2010 Matt Cardle
Rebecca Ferguson
One Direction
Dannii Minogue Geri Halliwell3
Natalie Imbruglia3
Katy Perry3
Pixie Lott3
Nicole Scherzinger3
Konnie Huq
8 20 August 2011 11 December 2011 Little Mix
Marcus Collins
Amelia Lily
Tulisa Louis Walsh
Gary Barlow
Kelly Rowland
Alexandra Burke4 Caroline Flack
Olly Murs6
9 18 August 2012 9 December 2012 James Arthur
Jahméne Douglas
Christopher Maloney
Over 28s
Nicole Scherzinger Louis Walsh
Gary Barlow
Nicole Scherzinger
Geri Halliwell5
Leona Lewis5
Rita Ora5
Nicole Scherzinger5
Mel B5
10 31 August 2013 15 December 2013 Sam Bailey
Over 25s
Nicholas McDonald
Luke Friend
Sharon Osbourne Sharon Osbourne
Louis Walsh
Gary Barlow
Nicole Scherzinger
N/A Caroline Flack7
Matt Richardson
11 30 August 2014 14 December 2014 Ben Haenow
Over 25s
Fleur East
Over 25s
Andrea Faustini
Simon Cowell Simon Cowell
Louis Walsh
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini
Mel B
Tulisa8 Sarah-Jane Crawford
12 29 August 2015 13 December 2015 Louisa Johnson
Reggie 'n' Bollie
Ché Chesterman
Rita Ora Caroline Flack
Olly Murs
Simon Cowell
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini
Nick Grimshaw
Rita Ora
N/A Rochelle Humes
Melvin Odoom
13 27 August 2016 11 December 2016 Matt Terry
Saara Aalto
Over 25s
5 After Midnight
Nicole Scherzinger Dermot O'Leary Simon Cowell
Sharon Osbourne
Louis Walsh
Nicole Scherzinger
Mel B9 Rylan Clark-Neal
Matt Edmondson

<templatestyles src="Refbegin/styles.css" />

  1. <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>^ Paula Abdul served as a guest judge for the London auditions.
  2. <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>^ 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.
  3. ^ <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>a <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>b <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>c <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>d <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>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.
  4. <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>^ 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.
  5. ^ <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>a <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>b <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>c <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>d <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>e <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>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.
  6. <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>^ 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.
  7. <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>^ Caroline Flack presented The Xtra Factor as well as serving as a backstage presenter during the live shows for the main show.
  8. <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>^ 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.
  9. <templatestyles src="Citation/styles.css"/>^ 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.[48]

Judges and presenters[]


File:Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell.jpg

Judges Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole during filming of the London auditions for series 7

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.[49] On 8 March 2007, it was announced that Walsh would not be returning as a judge for series 4.[50] 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.[51] 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,[52] and a number of other artists and producers were approached regarding her replacement. On 10 June, Cheryl Cole was confirmed as Osbourne's replacement.[53][54]

Despite rumours that Minogue would leave the show after series 5,[55][56] all four judges from series 5 returned for series 6.[57]

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.[58]

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.[59] 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.".[60] After Cowell, Minogue and Cole announced their leave, a number of celebrities were linked with judging roles, including Frankie Sandford,[61] Gary Barlow,[62] Noel Gallagher, Nicole Scherzinger,[63] Tulisa,[64] Kelly Rowland[65] and Alesha Dixon,[66] though Dixon ruled herself out, due to her commitments with Strictly Come Dancing,[67] she later joined Cowell's other show Britain's Got Talent.[68] On 30 May, it was confirmed that Barlow, Rowland and Tulisa would join Walsh for series 8.[69][70] 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.[71]

Barlow,[72][73] Walsh[74] and Tulisa[75] returned for series 9. Rowland left due to other commitments.[76][77] 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.[78] Scherzinger was confirmed as Rowland's replacement, and reappeared on the panel from the Newcastle auditions on a permanent basis.[79][80][81]

On 21 May 2013, ending months of media speculation, Tulisa confirmed that she would not return as a judge for the 10th series.[82][83] 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.[84] Osbourne later confirmed in July that her return was not permanent, and that she would leave once more at the conclusion of series 10.[85] Barlow announced during the first live show of series 10 that it would be his last series on the show.[86]

On 7 February 2014, it was confirmed that Cowell would return as a judge for series 11.[87][88] On 10 March, Cowell confirmed that Cole (now Fernandez-Versini) would return as a judge for the 11th series as a replacement for Scherzinger.[89][90][91] On 30 May, Walsh confirmed that he was returning for his 11th series.[92] On 10 June, it was confirmed that Spice Girls member Mel B would join the panel as Osbourne's replacement for the 11th series.[93]

Cowell was confirmed to return as a judge for the 12th series.[94] 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.[95] 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 confirmed that Fernandez-Versini 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.[96]

On 18 February 2016, a series representative confirmed Grimshaw's departure from the judging panel, confirming: "We are sad to see him go but wish him all the best."[97] On 5 April 2016, Fernandez-Versini announced her departure from the series, choosing instead to concentrate on her music career.[98] On 10 May, Ora confirmed she would not return for the 13th series of the show.[99] On 1 June 2016, the line-up for series 13 was confirmed as Cowell, Scherzinger, Osbourne and Walsh.[100] In December 2016, Walsh confirmed we would continue to judge the series through 2018, stating he had signed through "the next two years".[101] 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."[102][103]

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.[104] 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.[105] In 2013, Caroline Flack became a backstage presenter for the live shows on Saturdays.[106] 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.[107] 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."[108] 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."[109] 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.[110]

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 FactorTemplate:'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.[111] In series 7, Richard "Biff" Stannard started work as show song producer for Minogue's contestants,[112] and Grace Woodward joined the series as Fashion Director.[113] Voice-overs are provided by Peter Dickson and Enn Reitel. Dickson announced his departure from the show on 28 July 2015,[114] but announced his return due to "popular demand" on 30 October 2015.[citation needed]

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.[115] This table shows, for each series, which category each judge was allocated and which acts he or she put through to the live finals.

<templatestyles src="Legend/styles.css" />  – Winning judge/category. Winners are in bold, eliminated contestants in small font.
Series Simon Cowell Sharon Osbourne Louis Walsh N/A
1 Over 25s
Steve Brookstein
Rowetta Satchell
Verity Keays
Tabby Callaghan
Cassie Compton
Roberta Howett
Voices with Soul
2 to Go
2 Groups
Journey South
The Conway Sisters
Addictiv Ladies
Over 25s
Andy Abraham
Brenda Edwards
Chico Slimani
Maria Lawson
Shayne Ward
Nicholas Dorsett
Chenai Zinyuku
Phillip Magee
3 16–24s
Leona Lewis
Ray Quinn
Nikitta Angus
Ashley McKenzie
Over 25s
Ben Mills
Robert Allen
Kerry McGregor
Dionne Mitchell
The MacDonald Brothers
Eton Road
The Unconventionals
4 Simon Cowell Sharon Osbourne Louis Walsh Dannii Minogue
Same Difference
Alisha Bennett
Emily Nakanda
Kimberley Southwick
Over 25s
Niki Evans
Beverley Trotman
Daniel DeBourg
Leon Jackson
Rhydian Roberts
Andy Williams
5 Simon Cowell Cheryl Cole Louis Walsh Dannii Minogue
Eoghan Quigg
Austin Drage
Scott Bruton
Alexandra Burke
Diana Vickers
Laura White
Bad Lashes
Over 25s
Ruth Lorenzo
Rachel Hylton
Daniel Evans
6 Over 25s
Olly Murs
Danyl Johnson
Jamie Archer
Joe McElderry
Lloyd Daniels
Rikki Loney
John & Edward
Miss Frank
Kandy Rain
Stacey Solomon
Lucie Jones
Rachel Adedeji
7 Groups
One Direction
Belle Amie
Diva Fever
Rebecca Ferguson
Cher Lloyd
Katie Waissel
Treyc Cohen
Over 28s
Mary Byrne
John Adeleye
Storm Lee
Matt Cardle
Paije Richardson
Aiden Grimshaw
Nicolo Festa
8 Gary Barlow Tulisa Louis Walsh Kelly Rowland
Marcus Collins
Craig Colton
Frankie Cocozza
James Michael
Little Mix
The Risk
Nu Vibe
2 Shoes
Over 25s
Kitty Brucknell
Johnny Robinson
Sami Brookes
Jonjo Kerr
Amelia Lily
Misha B
Janet Devlin
Sophie Habibis
9 Gary Barlow Tulisa Louis Walsh Nicole Scherzinger
Over 28s
Christopher Maloney
Kye Sones
Melanie Masson
Carolynne Poole
Ella Henderson
Lucy Spraggan
Jade Ellis
Union J
James Arthur
Jahméne Douglas
Rylan Clark
10 Gary Barlow Sharon Osbourne Louis Walsh Nicole Scherzinger
Rough Copy
Kingsland Road
Miss Dynamix
Over 25s
Sam Bailey
Shelley Smith
Lorna Simpson
Nicholas McDonald
Luke Friend
Sam Callahan
Tamera Foster
Hannah Barrett
Abi Alton
11 Simon Cowell Cheryl Fernandez-Versini Louis Walsh Mel B
Over 25s
Ben Haenow
Fleur East
Stevi Ritchie
Jay James
Lauren Platt
Lola Saunders
Chloe Jasmine
Stephanie Nala
Stereo Kicks
Only The Young
Overload Generation
Blonde Electra
Andrea Faustini
Paul Akister
Jack Walton
Jake Quickenden
12 Simon Cowell Cheryl Fernandez-Versini Nick Grimshaw Rita Ora
Anton Stephans
Max Stone
Reggie 'n' Bollie
4th Impact
Alien Uncovered
Ché Chesterman
Mason Noise
Seann Miley Moore
Louisa Johnson
Lauren Murray
Monica Michael
Kiera Weathers
13 Simon Cowell Sharon Osbourne Louis Walsh Nicole Scherzinger
Emily Middlemas
Sam Lavery
Gifty Louise
Over 25s
Saara Aalto
Honey G
Relley C
5 After Midnight
Four of Diamonds
Brooks Way
Matt Terry
Ryan Lawrie
Freddy Parker


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[116] and a peak of 12.6 million viewers.[117] The series 4 final drew 12.7 million viewers – a 55% share of the terrestrial TV audience.[118] In series 5, 12.8 million tuned in to see show of 29 November 2008 featuring guest Britney Spears, a new X Factor record.[119] The series 5 final peaked with 14.6 million viewers.[120] The series 6 final was watched by 19.1 million viewers (a 63.2% audience share)[6] with 10 million votes cast[7] and the series 7 final topped this, attracting 19.4 million viewers with over 15 million votes cast,[121] but the series 8 final was a large drop from this, with 13.456 million viewers.[122] 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 in recent years The X Factor has reversed this trend, and when the shows went head-to-head for the first time,Template:When The X Factor attracted a larger audience share.[123] It rates as ITV's most popular programme whilst it is broadcast, and is the first format (along with Britain's Got Talent) in years to knock Coronation Street off the top.

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".[124] In both 2005 and 2006, The X Factor won the award for "Most Popular Entertainment Programme" at the National Television Awards.[citation needed] At the same awards in 2007, the show also won the award for "Most Popular Talent Show".[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] In 2010, The X Factor won "Best Talent Show" at the National Television Awards.[citation needed]

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."[125] 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.[126] 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.[127] 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.[128]

Series averages[]

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 12 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
in millions
(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 13.0
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

Controversy and criticism[]

Main article: Controversy and criticism of The X Factor (UK)

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;[129] 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.[130]


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.[citation needed] In 2010 TV3 announced that Irish viewers would only be able to vote using voting numbers posted online once the live shows start.[131] 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[132] 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."[133] 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) and series 11 (Chris Leonard of boy band Stereo Kicks). 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.

International broadcasts[]


Country Channel Premiere date
Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil Sony 2014
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada CHEK-DT, Yes TV,[134] Family Channel (29 July 2015)[135]
Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark DR3
Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland TV3
Template:MLT TVM
File:Flag of Poland.svg Poland Fox Life
Flag of the United States.svg United States AXS TV
File:Flag of Singapore.svg Singapore Mediacorp Channel 5
Southeast Asia RTL CBS Entertainment
Template:NZ TV3 2015
File:Flag of Finland.svg Finland Sub 2016

The Xtra Factor Live[]

<templatestyles src="Module:Infobox/styles.css"></templatestyles>

The X Factor
Created bySimon Cowell
Presented by
  • Ben Shephard
  • Fearne Cotton
  • Holly Willoughby
  • Konnie Huq
  • Caroline Flack
  • Olly Murs
  • Matt Richardson
  • Sarah-Jane Crawford
  • Rochelle Humes
  • Melvin Odoom
  • Matt Edmondson
  • Rylan Clark-Neal
Voices ofPeter Dickson
Brian Blessed
Redd Pepper
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series13
No. of episodes359
Production locationsFountain Studios (2004–16)
The Hospital Club (2016)
Running time30–80 minutes (including advert breaks)
Original networkITV2
Picture formatHDTV: 1080i
SDTV: 576i
Original release4 September 2004 (2004-09-04) –
11 December 2016 (2016-12-11)
The X Factor

Lua error in Module:Television_infoboxes_disambiguation_check at line 246: attempt to call local 'match' (a nil value).

The Xtra Factor Live (previously The Xtra Factor) was a companion show that was broadcast on digital channel ITV2 and on TV3 Ireland, usually on Saturday and Sunday nights after the main ITV show. 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 has since continued his role. Redd Pepper also provided voiceovers in series 12.


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.[136] 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, however, from Series 13, The Xtra Factor aired live directly after every show over the course of the series from the auditions to the finals.[137]

On 18 January 2017, it was announced that The Xtra Factor would be axed after 12 years and would be replaced by an online show instead.[138]


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,[139][140] and Fearne Cotton took over as presenter, for series 4 only, before leaving the show to concentrate on her career in America.[141][142] Allegations of a falling-out with Cowell were also reported.[143] For series 5, Cotton was replaced by presenter and close friend Holly Willoughby.[144] 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.[145] However, Huq decided to depart from the series in March 2011 because of work commitments.[146]

On 31 May 2011, Caroline Flack and Olly Murs were confirmed as the new co-presenters for series 8 by The X FactorTemplate:'s official Twitter page.[147] 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.[148] Comedian Matt Richardson was later announced to replace Murs.[149] On 4 June 2014, it was announced that Richardson would not return as co-presenter for series 11.[150] Flack confirmed on 11 June 2014 that she would not be returning to present the 11th series of The Xtra Factor.[151] The next day, it was confirmed that Sarah-Jane Crawford would replace Flack and Richardson as presenter.[152] On 11 May 2015, Crawford confirmed via Twitter that she would not return for a second series in 2015.[153]

On 18 June 2015, it was confirmed that The Saturdays singer Rochelle Humes and Kiss FM DJ Melvin Odoom would be the hosts.[154] On 27 June 2016, it was confirmed that Matt Edmondson would be the host of The Xtra Factor.[155] It was confirmed on 1 July 2016 that Rylan Clark-Neal would co-host alongside Edmondson.[156] The same day, it was announced that Roman Kemp would join the show as the new digital online presenter and social media reporter.[157]

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.[158][159]

The X Factor: Battle of the Stars[]

Main article: 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.[160]

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".[161]

Music releases by The X Factor contestants[]

Main article: The X Factor (UK) discography

As of June 2015, 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.[162] 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.[163] 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."[164] 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.

Charity singles[]

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."[165]

The 2009 finalists released a cover of Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" which was released in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital[165] and reached number one.[166]

The 2010 finalists released a cover of David Bowie's ""Heroes"", with proceeds once again going to the Help for Heroes charity.[167]

In 2011, the finalists released Rose Royce's "Wishing on a Star" and the proceeds were donated to Together for Short Lives.[168] This song features previous contestants JLS and One Direction.[169] In 2012, it was announced that the winner's single would also be the charity single.[170]

The charity single was scrapped after series 8, although the winner's singles from series 9 onwards were all released for charity.

Year Song Peak
(sales thresholds)
2008 "Hero"[171][172]
(X Factor Finalists 2008)
1 1 Help for Heroes
2009 "You Are Not Alone"
(X Factor Finalists 2009)
1 1 Great Ormond Street Hospital
2010 "Heroes"[174]
(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
2012 "Impossible"
(James Arthur – series 9 winner's single)
1 1
2013 "Skyscraper"
(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
2015 "Forever Young"
(Louisa Johnson – series 12 winner's single)
9 5
2016 "When Christmas Comes Around"
(Matt Terry – series 13 winner's single)
3 28 Together for Short Lives
Shooting Star CHASE

The X Factor – The Greatest Hits[]

In celebration of the show's 10th series, The X Factor – The Greatest Hits was released on 25 November 2013. The album features 34 songs from 21 of the show's finalists.[175][176][177]

Disc 1[178]
1."Bleeding Love (Radio Edit)" (Leona Lewis)
  • Jesse McCartney
  • Ryan Tedder
Ryan Tedder3:58
2."What Makes You Beautiful" (One Direction)
  • Rami Yacoub
  • Carl Falk
  • Savan Kotecha
  • Jim Jacobs
  • Warren Casey
  • Rami Yacoub
  • Carl Falk
3."Heart Skips a Beat" (Olly Murs featuring Rizzle Kicks)
  • Alex Smith
  • Samuel Preston
  • Jim Eliot
  • Jordan Stephens
  • Harley Alexander-Sule
Jim Eliot3:22
4."Beat Again (Radio Edit)" (JLS)
  • Wayne Hector
  • Steve Mac
Steve Mac3:19
5."Wings" (Little Mix)
  • Thomas Barnes
  • Peter Kelleher
  • Ben Kohn
  • Iain James
  • Perrie Edwards
  • Jesy Nelson
  • Leigh-Anne Pinnock
  • Jade Thirlwall
  • Erika Nuri
  • Michelle Lewis
  • Mischke Butler
  • Heidi Rojas
6."Bad Boys" (Alexandra Burke featuring Flo Rida)
  • Melvin K. Watson Jr
  • Larry Summerville Jr
  • busbee
  • Lauren Evans
  • Alex James
  • Tramar Dillard
The Phantom Boyz3:26
7."Impossible" (James Arthur)
  • Arnthor Birgisson
  • Ina Wroldsen
  • Graham Stack
  • Matt Furmidge
8."Nothing's Real but Love" (Rebecca Ferguson)
  • Rebecca Ferguson
  • Eg White
Eg White2:56
9."The Climb" (Joe McElderry)
  • Jessi Alexander
  • Jon Mabe
Quiz & Larossi3:36
10."When We Collide" (Matt Cardle)Simon Neil
  • Richard "Biff" Stannard
  • Ash Howes
11."Once" (Diana Vickers)
Mike Spencer3:05
12."You Bring Me Joy" (Amelia Lily)
  • Annie Yuill
  • Brian Higgins
  • Carla Marie Williams
  • Fred Falke
  • Luke Fitton
  • Matt Gray
  • Miranda Cooper
  • Owen Parker
  • Toby Scott
13."No Promises" (Shayne Ward)
  • Jonas Schrøder
  • Lucas Sieber
  • Cutfather
  • Jonas Schrøder
  • Lucas Sieber
14."Carry You" (Union J)
  • Steve Mac
  • Claude Kelly
15."Do You Think of Me (Radio Edit)" (Misha B)
  • Misha B
  • Ben Kohn
  • Tom Barnes
  • Pete Kelleher
  • Ayak Thiik
16."Last Night (Beer Fear)" (Lucy Spraggan)Lucy Spraggan
  • James Falnnigan
  • Samuel Preston
17."Swagger Jagger" (Cher Lloyd)
  • Cher Lloyd
  • Autumn Rowe
  • Jermaine Jackson
  • Andrew Harr
  • Petr Brdičko
  • Andre Davidson
  • Sean Davidson
  • Marcus Lomax
  • Clarence Coffee Jr.
  • The Runners
  • The Monarch
Disc 2
1."Troublemaker" (Olly Murs featuring Flo Rida)
  • Olly Murs
  • Steve Robson
  • Claude Kelly
  • Tramar Dillard
Steve Robson3:03
2."Everybody in Love" (JLS)
  • Jonathan Rotem
  • Wayne Hector
  • Felicia Jensen
  • David D.A. Doman
  • J.R. Rotem
3."Little Things" (One Direction)
  • Fiona Bevan
  • Ed Sheeran
Jake Gosling3:39
4."Run (Single Mix)" (Leona Lewis)
  • Gary Lightbody
  • Jonathan Quinn
  • Mark McClelland
  • Nathan Connolly
  • Iain Archer
Steve Robson4:39
5."Cannonball" (Little Mix)Damien Rice
  • Richard "Biff" Stannard
  • Ash Howes
  • Steve Mac
6."Hallelujah" (Alexandra Burke)Leonard CohenQuiz & Larossi3:39
7."You're Nobody 'til Somebody Loves You" (James Arthur)
  • James Arthur
  • Tom Barnes
  • Pete Kelleher
  • Ben Kohn
8."That's My Goal" (Shayne Ward)
  • Jörgen Elofsson
  • Jem Godfrey
  • Bill Padley
  • Per Magnusson
  • David Kreuger
9."With Ur Love" (Cher Lloyd featuring Mike Posner)
  • Shellback
  • Savan Kotecha
  • Max Martin
  • Mike Posner
10."Backtrack" (Rebecca Ferguson)
  • Rebecca Ferguson
  • Jonny Lattimer
  • Jonny Lattimer
  • Tim Baxter
11."Seven Nation Army" (Marcus Collins)Jack White
  • Matt Furmidge
  • Alex Smith
  • Brian Rawling
12."Run for Your Life" (Matt Cardle)Gary BarlowGary Barlow4:08
13."Home Run" (Misha B)
  • Misha B
  • MNEK
  • Misha B
  • MNEK
14."Lighthouse" (Lucy Spraggan)
  • Lucy Spraggan
  • Samuel Preston
  • James Flannigan
  • Samuel Preston
  • James Flannigan
15."Is This Love" (Aiden Grimshaw)
  • Aiden Grimshaw
  • Jarrad Rogers
  • Joel Pott
Jarrad Rogers3:25
16."Ambitions" (Joe McElderry)
  • Cato Sundberg
  • Kent Sundberg
  • Simen M Eriksrud
  • Simone Larsen
  • Ray Hedges
  • Nigel Butler
17."Titanium" (Jahméne Douglas)
  • Sia Furler
  • David Guetta
  • Giorgio Tuinfort
  • Nick van de Wall

The X Factor Songbook[]

The X Factor Songbook is a 60-song compilation album released 24 November 2014.[179]

Disc 1
1."Make You Feel My Love"Adele3:32
3."Stay with Me"Sam Smith2:52
4."All of Me"John Legend2:59
5."Ghost"Ella Henderson3:33
6."The A Team"Ed Sheeran4:18
7."Story of My Life" (Radio Edit)One Direction3:38
8."The One That Got Away"Katy Perry3:46
9."Fight for This Love"Cheryl Cole3:42
10."Just Give Me a Reason"Pink featuring Nate Ruess4:02
11."I Will Never Let You Down"Rita Ora3:23
12."All About That Bass"Meghan Trainor3:07
13."Only Love Can Hurt Like This"Paloma Faith3:52
14."Beneath Your Beautiful"Labrinth featuring Emeli Sandé3:56
15."Fallin'" (Radio Edit)Alicia Keys3:15
16."Say Something"A Great Big World3:49
17."Change Your Life" (Single Mix)Little Mix3:21
18."My Heart Will Go On"Celine Dion5:08
19."I Didn't Know My Own Strength"Whitney Houston3:39
20."Run" (Single Mix)Leona Lewis4:40
Disc 2
1."Home"Michael Bublé3:46
2."Angels"Robbie Williams4:20
3."Dance with Me Tonight"Olly Murs3:22
4."Locked Out of Heaven"Bruno Mars3:52
5."Hall of Fame"The Script featuring will.i.am3:21
6."Moves Like Jagger"Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera3:21
7."She Makes Me Wanna"JLS featuring Dev3:39
8."I Want You Back"Melanie B featuring Missy Elliott3:26
9."Bad Boys"Alexandra Burke featuring Flo Rida3:26
10."A Moment Like This"Kelly Clarkson3:46
11."Your Song"Ellie Goulding3:08
12."Nothing's Real but Love"Rebecca Ferguson2:51
13."Skyscraper"Demi Lovato3:39
14."Angel"Sarah McLachlan4:00
15."Un-Break My Heart"Toni Braxton4:05
16."A Thousand Years"Christina Perri3:58
18."Valerie"Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse3:36
19."Hey, Soul Sister"Train3:36
Disc 3
1."Back for Good"Take That4:02
2."Read All About It, Pt. III"Emeli Sandé4:43
3."Back to Black" (Radio Edit)Amy Winehouse3:12
4."Leave Right Now"Will Young3:30
5."Beautiful"Christina Aguilera3:59
6."The Climb"Miley Cyrus3:51
7."I Believe I Can Fly"R. Kelly3:15
8."I Can't Make You Love Me"George Michael5:20
9."Dance with My Father" (Radio Version)Luther Vandross4:25
10."Flying Without Wings"Westlife3:34
11."All by Myself" (Remastered)Eric Carmen4:31
12."Eternal Flame"The Bangles3:55
13."Whenever, Wherever"Shakira3:16
14."Torn"Natalie Imbruglia4:04
15."How You Remind Me"Nickelback3:41
16."Don't Stop Believin'"Journey4:10
17."Wherever You Will Go"The Calling3:27
18."How to Save a Life" (Single Mix)The Fray3:59
19."Many of Horror"Biffy Clyro4:17
20."Hallelujah"Jeff Buckley4:17


  • 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)[180]
  • Series 1–3: The X Factor: Access All Areas (2007)
  • Series 6: The X Factor Annual (2009)[181]
  • Series 7: The X Factor Annual (2010)
  • Series 7: The Xtra Factor Annual (2010)[182]
  • Series 8: The X Factor Annual (2011)
  • X Magazine – weekly publication to accompany the seventh series in 2010.[183]

The X Factor brand has also appeared on clothing, jewellery,[184] perfume, make-up, toiletries,[185] bedding, gifts, confectionery,[186] soft drinks[187] and pizzas.[188] 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.[189]


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External links[]

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