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X Factor winners: Where are they now?

Winning isn't everything as One Direction, JLS and Olly Murs have proven

As the final of ITV talent show The X Factor looms this Sunday, the three remaining acts will be practising hard, gunning to win and fearing for their future careers if they fail.

But should 17-year old Nicholas MacDonald, big-haired guitarist Luke Friend and bookies' favourite Sam Bailey take a glance back through the competition’s history, it might just dawn on them that winning really isn’t everything.


A recent online quiz asking viewers to guess the names of former winners and runners-up found that many briefly famous faces have long since been forgotten.

Only 49 per cent could recognise series winner Steve Brookstein , while less than one in five people correctly identified 2005 runner-up Andy Abraham, according to quizfactor.com.

With the exception of winners Leona Lewis , girl band Little Mix and Alexandra Burke , many a runner-up has done better in the success stakes than the singer who beat them in the final vote.


Few people need a memory jolt to place the name One Direction, who last week saw their album Midnight Memories enter the top slot on the US Billboard 200 for the third time.

Before One Direction came JLS, whose success was so wide-ranging they had an influence on safe sex (the group launched a ‘Just Love Safe’ condom range with Durex in 2010).

The following year, Olly Murs lost out to Joe McElderry in the final, but has since racked up far more hits, including number one single “Troublemaker” featuring US rapper Flo Rida.

Rebecca Ferguson, who came second to Matt Cardle in 2010, is currently in the charts with “I Hope”, while the man who beat her to the title is nowhere to be seen. 

Who has come first, second and third in The X Factor’s ten year history?

2004: Steve Brookstein, G4 and Tabby Callaghan

2005: Shayne Ward, Andy Abraham and Journey South

2006: Leona Lewis, Ray Quinn and Ben Mills

2007: Leon Jackson, Rhydian Roberts and Same Difference

2008: Alexandra Burke, JLS and Eoghan Quigg

2009: Joe McElderry, Olly Murs and Stacey Solomon

2010: Matt Cardle, Rebecca Ferguson and One Direction

2011: Little Mix, Marcus Collins and Amelia Lily

2012: James Arthur, Jahméne Douglas and Christopher Maloney

2013: In an as-yet unknown order: Sam Bailey, Nicholas MacDonald and Luke Friend

Video: Interview with Little Mix

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