The X Factor made great telly – but at what human cost?

Long before vulnerability contracts, X Factor contestants signed NDAs instead. It’s only as these start to expire that we are offered the truth behind the production, writes Amy Nickell

Sunday 01 August 2021 16:55
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<p>‘Countless successful contestants have since accused the show of maltreatment’</p>

‘Countless successful contestants have since accused the show of maltreatment’

The X Factor has finally sloped off into the TV ether. After 17 years on air, 20 plus judges and 15 winners, Simon Cowell announced this week that the show has “gone slightly stale”. This understatement is the “do not resuscitate” papers most of us expected years ago. The show had essentially been on life support since 2014.

But for the best part of the noughties, it was unmissable telly. Those guest performances, the questionable group songs and the birth of some real stars from Leona Lewis to One Direction. At its peak, 20 million people tuned in on Saturday evenings.

Yet the problem remains that few who appeared on the show, bar its celebrity judging panel, seem to have a good word to say about the experience.

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