|The X Factor UK (Series 7)|
|Broadcast from||21 August 2010 – 12 December 2010|
|Judges|| Simon Cowell|
|Number of finalists||16|
It is the most watched series to date, with an average of 14.13 million viewers per episode. The final was watched by 17.71 million people, making it the highest rated television episode of 2010 in the UK.
It was won by 27-year old pop rock singer Matt Cardle who was part of the Boys category mentored by Dannii Minogue. Fellow finalists Rebecca Ferguson, One Direction and Cher Lloyd and Aiden Grimshaw also secured record deals with One Direction going on to achieve global success with sales of over 40 million, becoming Syco's best-selling act from the show.
The show was presented by Dermot O'Leary for the fourth year running, with spin-off show The Xtra Factor presented by Konnie Huq on ITV2. Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole returned as judges.
Auditions: The arena auditions from the previous series were brought back. Auditions were held in Glasgow, Birmingham, London, Dublin, Cardiff and Manchester. Dublin returned as an audition city for the first time since the third series in 2006.
Age Limit: The minimum age remained at 16 years old.
Category Change: The Over 25s became the Over 28s for the first time.
Wildcards: This was the first series to introduce a wildcard twist as the judges were allowed to bring back a contestant who had originally been eliminated at Judges' Houses.
Live Shows: In a change to the shows from 2005 to 2009, there were 16 finalists instead of 12 with the addition of 4 wildcards in each category. This was the first series to feature a Top 4 in the final. The live final was also held over two nights.
Charity single: For the third year in a row, the finalists released a cover version of David Bowie's 1977 single "Heroes" with all proceeds going to the Help for Heroes charity.
21, Treviso, Italy
|Fewest public votes|
22-26, various places
|Over 28s|| 14th|
|Fewest public votes|
21-26, various places
30, Harlesden, London
|Over 28s|| 12th|
17-23, various places
27, Stonydelph, Tamworth
|X Factor 2011 Live Tour|
19, North Shore, Blackpool
20, Islington, London
24, Harefield, Middlesex
|Fewest public votes|
|Over 28s|| 6th|
51, Dublin, Ireland
|Over 28s|| 5th|
|Fewest public votes|
16-19, various places
|Fewest public votes|
24, Anfield, Liverpool
|Fewest public votes|
27, Little Maplestead, Essex
|Most public votes|
Finalist Treyc Cohen first auditioned for the show in Series 6 and made it all the way to Judges' Houses before being eliminated. Runner-up Rebecca Ferguson also auditioned during the same series but did not make it far. Cher Lloyd also previously auditioned twice (during Series 5 and Series 6) but did not make it far. Liam Payne also auditioned during Series 5 but was told that he was too young and was thus rejected.
|Judge||Category||Location||Guest mentor(s)||Contestants eliminated||Wildcards|
|Cole||Girls||Coworth Park, Berkshire||will.i.am||Keri Arrindell, Annastasia Baker, Gamu Nhengu, Raquel Thomas||Treyc Cohen|
|Cowell||Groups||Marbella||Sinitta||Husstle, Princes and Rogues, The Reason, Twem||Diva Fever|
|Minogue||Boys||Melbourne||Natalie Imbruglia||Karl Brown, Marlon McKenzie, Tom Richards, John Wilding||Paije Richardson|
|Walsh||Over 28s||Adare Manor, County Limerick||Sharon Osbourne||Stephen Hunter, Yuli Minguel, Elesha Moses, Justin Vanderhyde||Wagner|
|Weekly results per contestant|
|John Adeleye|| 9th|
|Diva Fever|| 10th|
|Storm Lee|| 13th|
|Bottom two|| F.Y.D.,|
| Belle Amie,|
| Belle Amie,|
| No final showdown or judges' votes;|
results were based on public votes alone
| Walsh's vote|
| Minogue's vote|
|F.Y.D.||Diva Fever||Adeleye||Belle Amie||Waissel||Waissel||Lloyd||Wagner||Byrne|
| Cole's vote|
|F.Y.D.||Diva Fever||Adeleye||Belle Amie||None (refused)||Grimshaw||Richardson||Wagner||Byrne|
| Cowell's vote|
On 25 August, it was announced that contestant Shirlena Johnson had been asked to leave the show because of concerns over her mental health, that she had apparently kept hidden from the producers. Johnson's successful audition was broadcast on 21 August. Johnson's mother claimed that producers knew of Johnson's medical history as they requested her general practitioner's details at bootcamp, but producers said the medical report arrived late. A spokesperson said, "The welfare of contestants is of paramount importance, and for this reason it has been agreed that Shirlena Johnson should not continue in the competition."
The decision to form two groups, Belle Amie and One Direction, from soloists at the end of the bootcamp stage was branded unfair by some of the other groups, as neither had entered the competition as groups. The controversy deepened after Cowell put through both Belle Amie and One Direction and picked just one of the original applicants. Cowell defended the decision, saying that the existing groups were not good enough and other groups such as The Wanted and the Spice Girls were created similarly.
More controversy erupted after the News of the World reported that after failing to qualify in 2009, Treyc Cohen signed a management deal with Artimis Music Management Ltd that landed her a recording contract in October that year with Birmingham-based Ajoupa Records and she released a single entitled "A Time to Be Heard". The rules of the show strictly forbid record deals while a contestant is on the show. According to the newspaper, The X Factor was attempting to release Cohen from her management deal and remove the single from sale. Katie Waissel also had to be released from a contract in the United States after her audition.
Controversy was caused when Cole chose not to send popular contestant Gamu Nhengu through to the live shows. Nhengu was an early favourite to win and many viewers were angry that Waissel and Cher Lloyd were put through despite failing to complete their performances at judges' houses. Around 1,000 people complained to ITV and by 7 October 220,000 had joined a Facebook page called "Gamu Should Have Got Through". Cole reportedly became the target of death threats, and took extra security precautions in her home as well as at The X Factor. Bookmaker Paddy Power were forced to give odds on Nhengu winning the show after a large number of bets were placed, and made her the favourite to win, but all punters had their losing bets refunded when Nhengu was not chosen as Cole's wildcard. There was speculation that Cole was pressured by producers to axe Nhengu over issues with her visa, but Cheryl denied those claims, saying it was entirely down to her "gut instinct" and that she believed Lloyd, Waissel and Rebecca Ferguson were the best singers in her category. Later in her 2012 autobiography Cheryl: My Story, Cheryl confessed that she had chosen Waissel for the live shows because she was more entertaining, claiming ..."[Cowell] had spent the past two years drumming into me that we needed acts who would be 'good TV.'...she had the character and drive it took to withstand the pressure of the show, and so I put her through, even though she messed up when she sang in front of Will.i.am."
More than 1,000 viewers complained to ITV and more than 2,000 to Ofcom when, in week 5 of the live shows, Cole refused to vote off either act in the bottom two (Cohen and Waissel) and was not allowed to vote last and force a deadlock. A spokesperson for The X Factor explained: "A judge can abstain from placing a vote. [Cole] made it clear that she would not send anyone home and therefore abstained from voting. [O'Leary] went back to her to clarify that it was going to go to a majority vote if she did that. [Cole] was unable to take the vote to deadlock as deadlock requires a valid active vote." However, a Daily Mail poll of 6,890 people showed that 4,795 of them wanted Cole to be sacked for refusing to vote. O'Leary revealed that during the previous commercial break, when the bottom two was known to the producers, they realized that Cole might abstain and decided in that if she did, they would go to a majority vote. After the series ended, voting statistics showed that Waissel received fewer votes than Cohen, meaning that if the result had gone to deadlock, Waissel would have been eliminated instead of Cohen.
Accusations of fixing
After O'Leary's revelation that producers had rehearsed what would happen if Cole abstained in week 5, allegations were made that the result was rigged for Waissel to stay, given that her outlandish performances and growing unpopularity with the public resulted in better ratings and sensational press for the show. Cowell denied this claim, saying he would never want to defraud viewers and said the situation had "been blown out of proportion". O'Leary defended himself and the show on Twitter, saying "We never know which way the judges are going to vote. Ever. The only thing I know is who's in the bottom two when I'm given the card. I don't know which judge to go to until I'm called and the judges, including [Cowell], don't know the vote or who we're coming to next. It's that simple." The following week, Heat magazine printed a report claiming that Cowell was aware of the public votes before the judges make their votes, and several other media reports contained rumours of the show being fixed. The show's bosses instructed their lawyers to file a formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission against Heat, saying that the article was a lie, that very few people know the actual public voting results and conspiracy theories being printed in the media are "total and utter rubbish". Heat printed an apology in their 1 January 2011 issue and accepted that Cowell was unaware of the votes cast until after the final.
There were accusations from viewers of fixing during the semi-final when O'Leary announced that only the public's votes would decide which contestants would make it through to the final, but the next day this was changed and there was a final showdown. The show's official website also stated that it would be decided by public vote, and Walsh confirmed it on a radio show earlier in the week. It was the first time in the show's history that the judges were given a vote in a semi-final. A spokesperson insisted the change was decided weeks in advance. Cowell (incorrectly) stated that "There has always been a sing-off when there are five people left in the competition. This is a lot of nonsense about nothing." However, eliminated contestant Mary Byrne said she believed the decision would be solely down to the public until the day of the semi-final performances and even claimed that Cowell did not want her in the final. Following Byrne's comments, Cowell wrote an open letter to the viewers in the Daily Mirror, saying:
"It's always our sole intention to try and make the show as entertaining and hopefully exciting every week. Our main focus is to ensure that the contestants are given every opportunity to benefit from being on the show and show their talent. Throughout the series I have met with fans of the show on a regular basis and have listened and acted on their feedback. I believe they have enjoyed the changes in the show this year and I feel it's been a better series as it hasn't followed the same pattern as before. This year we decided to give four contestants a second chance and introduce them as wild card entrants on the first live show. And having 16 finalists rather than just 12 meant that we introduced both single and double eliminations. We decided for the first time some weeks ago to put four people into the final and this meant having five semi-finalists. We also felt it would be fairer that there would be a sing-off rather than automatic elimination as there were more contestants. I understand new decisions are seen as controversial by our viewers but it stops the show becoming boring. As the excitement heats up, debates begin but I do want to assure people that the show is definitely not fixed. The sing-off on Sunday was something that was always going to happen regardless of who was in the bottom two. The contestants all prepared their save-me songs on Monday last week. It was always going to be sad for whoever left. [...] I have always listened to and respected our viewers and have always believed viewers ultimately make the right decision. I hope the viewers trust the show that this is a fair competition."
Voting statistics revealed that Lloyd would have been eliminated had there been no judges' vote.
Following the first episode, viewers complained on social networking websites after it appeared that pitch correction (which has been seen as controversial in the music industry) was used to improve the quality of some singers' voices, and forty-five viewers complained to Ofcom. Series producers claimed post-production work was necessary on the show because of the number of microphones used during filming: "The judges make their decisions at the auditions stage based on what they hear on the day, live in the arena. The footage and sound is then edited and dubbed into a finished programme, to deliver the most entertaining experience possible for viewers. When it gets to the live shows, it will be all live." It was reported on 26 August that Cowell had ordered a ban on pitch correction in future episodes, asking for them to be re-edited. In October 2010, Ofcom ruled that viewers had not been "materially misled" as pitch correction was only used during auditions and not when viewers were paying to vote for the contestants.
In December 2010, it emerged that Ofcom were investigating the show after claims that viewers were being encouraged to purchase songs recorded by guest performers Michael Bublé and Diana Vickers. Ofcom also received over 2,868 complaints from viewers about "raunchy" dance routines from Rihanna and Christina Aguilera during the final. Although an ITV spokesperson denied the routines were inappropriate, Cowell was warned by ITV to "cut the sleaze". In April 2011, Ofcom ruled that there had been no breach of guidelines over the performances, and highlighted that "approximately 2,000" of the complaints were received after the routines were covered by the Daily Mail, and said the newspaper's report featured a number of stills that were "significantly more graphic and close-up" than material broadcast, and that were "taken from a different angle to the television cameras".
- This was the second series where the winning act and and runner-up performed different potential winner's singles, the first being in its inaugural series. From Series 2 to Series 6 they performed the same single and would do so again the following year.
- This series featured the most watched audition on YouTube courtesy of female duo Ablisa who performed Shayne Ward's winner's single "That's My Goal" badly and received four no's from the judges. The full version can be viewed here.
|The X Factor UK|