‘Beg the judges if they say no’: Every X Factor act who has spoken against the show
A damning X Factor doc has JUST been confirmed
An exposé on The X Factor is FINALLY coming, according to reports. The now-cancelled reality show was a huge staple of our Saturday nights for well over 10 years, bringing us massive mainstream stars we still listen to today.
Harry Styles, Little Mix and Alexandra Burke each got their start on the series – but allegedly, there was a dark underbelly viewers knew nothing about.
Details are vague, and we know very, very little about the documentary as of writing this. But, while we wait, here are all the former staff members and contestants who had a *lot* to say about The X Factor:
‘They were directing me to break down on stage’ – Zoe Alexander
In 2012, artist Zoe Alexander auditioned in Cardiff. She claims she got through several rounds of pre-arena auditions before coming up in front of the judges.
She told producers in her interview insert that her “day job” was performing as a Pink tribute act, but she wanted to establish herself as a singer in her own right. To the viewers watching at home, she walked on wearing a Pink-style outfit, sang So What and kicked off when the judges gave her a “no.” But, speaking eight years later, Zoe told a much different story.
The artist alleged producers had told her to sing a Pink song, otherwise they wouldn’t let her do the audition. Zoe claimed her original list of song choices included Domino, Next to Me and Tik Tok by Ke$ha – but executives advised she change it to So What, instead.
When Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh, Nicole Scherzinger and Tulisa gave her four “no”s, Zoe hit back, saying “you told me to sing a Pink song.” She was visibly distressed, as the realisation set in more and more. “They were directing me to break down on stage,” she later said in her YouTube video. “(Producers) said, ‘if the judges say no, beg them.”
She spoke about how the entire ordeal wrecked her mental health, causing her to feel suicidal.
While X Factor executives never responded to the claims, a representative for Simon Cowell (whose production company Syco launched the show) told Heat: “Simon has been genuinely blindsided. He feels heartbroken and betrayed.”
Ofcom investigated Zoe’s claims and ruled that the producers were “not unfair” in their dealings with the contestant, particularly given that she was told to perform a second song from her list by the judges. They found the clip was “not unfairly edited” and overall, Zoe was “not unfairly portrayed” in the show.
‘They were going to throw this “angry, black girl” narrative at me’ – Misha B
A year before Zoe Alexander’s experience, singer/songwriter Misha B had an ordeal of her own. Tabloid rumours and accusations of her bullying others flew around during her time on the show. And, a decade later, she revealed the shoe was actually on the other foot.
Misha claims she was actually the one being bullied (by 0ver-25s contestant Kitty Brucknell), as well as having to suffer the “angry black girl” trope being forced upon her by the press and some of the judges.
She stated there were incidents when Kitty would “barricade herself” in front of where Misha wanted to walk, just to wind her up. Misha also accused Louis and Tulisa – who were then judges on the show – of “verbal violence.”
The artist was referring to an incident during one of the live shows, in which Tulisa and Louis called her out for supposedly making Little Mix cry. “I do have one negative this week,” Tulisa said at the time. “I think, Misha, you’re very competitive and I’ve seen a different side of you backstage. I think, you don’t realise that you do it, but in some ways, you being so feisty can come across quite mean.”
Tulisa responded to Misha’s claims on Instagram: “This was 100 per cent not racially motivated.”
A spokesperson for The X Factor told The Tab that they were very concerned to hear Misha’s comments, and have since reached out to her.
‘I was introduced to the person who sexually assaulted me’ – Katie Waissel
2010 contestant Katie Waissel was brought back in the 2014 final, to sing a medley of The Time (Dirty Bit) with previous years’ contestants. A clip of the performance went viral on TikTok, which showed Katie mouthing to Simon: “You owe me.”
In a brief explainer, Katie said: “2014… I begged so hard not to be part of this. I had a cab waiting for me outside, I wanted to go home. I’m caught here saying ‘you owe me’ – I was then introduced to the person who sexually assaulted me.”
@katiewaisselofficial #duet with @katiewaisselofficial #question to explain the context – thank you for all for your love and support. Always happy to explain further #fyp #facts #youoweme #journeyforjustice #context #tv #bts ♬ Blade Runner 2049 – Synthwave Goose
While she hasn’t yet gone into further detail, she stated in a comment: “There is so so much more. But I’m slowly navigating speaking openly about it whilst my police investigation is taking place.”
A spokesperson for The X Factor has told The Tab that the individual implicated in the allegations is a music executive – and nothing to do with the show. Katie’s claims are in relation to an incident which took place years after Katie’s last appearance.
‘They created a character’ – Cher Lloyd
Speaking to The Guardian, 2011 contestant Cher Lloyd said she still has to do “damage control” after The X Factor made her look like an “ungrateful failure.”
“What baffles me is that they created a character but then, after the show, expected me to be a fully fledged, respected artist,” she said. “I had to do damage control. And still, at 26 years old, I have to do damage control. Years later, I do have some anger towards people for doing that to me.”
She revealed she no longer performs Swagger Jagger – her first song since coming fourth in the show – because it’s too “sad.”
‘We regret not telling the judges to fuck off’ – Jedward
The Biggest regret in life was not telling the judges on Xfactor to fuck off ❤️
— JEDWARD (@planetjedward) April 5, 2021
In a Twitter rant, Jedward alleged “every contestant… was a slave to the show” as well as “(everyone having) to pretend the judges mentor them… when in reality all they care about is their pay check.”
The pair also called for “justice for One Direction and Little Mix.”
A spokesperson for The X Factor told The Tab: “Duty of care to our contestants is of the utmost importance to us. We take the welfare of anyone involved in our programmes extremely seriously and have thorough and robust measures in place to ensure everyone feels supported. These measures are under constant review and are adaptable to reflect the unique requirements for each series.”
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Featured image via ITV/@jepictiktok before edits.