Former X Factor contestants to reveal claims of 'bullying and exploitation' in new documentary

Photo credit: Tim P. Whitby - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tim P. Whitby - Getty Images

Nothing quite marked a noughties' Saturday night in like a takeaway on the sofa and The X Factor on TV. The hit show, which ran for 15 series, is an undeniable marker of British culture, spawning world famous artists including Harry Styles (of One Direction), Little Mix and Leona Lewis. At its height, the show attracted 14 million viewers and hosted celebrity judges such as Louis Walsh, Cheryl Tweedy, Mel B and Robbie Williams – it's success even lead to The X Factor brand being franchised across the globe.

But now, four years on from when the show came to an end in the UK, a new documentary is set to investigate claims of "exploitation" and "bullying" that occurred behind-the-scenes on The X Factor, which was fronted by music boss, Simon Cowell.

"There are currently some former contestants telling their stories for the programme," a documentary insider told the Daily Mail. "There are some out there who believe they were mistreated by The X Factor machine."

The source continued: "They are now going to get their chance to have a say. But what is more worrying for Cowell and ITV is that there are some of his former lieutenants who are ready to break their silence on what went on."

According to the insider, several former contestants and at least one of Cowell's ex-aides will appear on the documentary to tell their version of what allegedly went on.

Photo credit: - Getty Images
Photo credit: - Getty Images

News of the documentary comes just months after a number of the show's stars spoke out about their time and alleged treatment on The X Factor. In April of last year, Katie Waissel claimed that she was sexually assaulted by someone on the show's team, whilst Rebecca Ferguson reported to police claims of harassment and coercive control against a senior male industry figure.

Similarly, finalist Fleur East alleged that Cowell had "put [her] on a shelf" after the release of one album, with break-out star Chico Slimani claiming that the show's bosses only wanted to make money from contestants. "It gave me the chance to earn a good living," he said on talkRADIO in 2021. "I can’t complain because I knew what it was, they use you, or abuse you, and you use that platform to go on."

He went on: "They don’t care about you. You’re a commodity; you are as good as the money you’re going to make them. That is it. You are completely replaceable and as I said, it’s a conveyor belt. If you’re not going to do it, someone else will take your place to do it."

According to the Daily Mail, sources close to Cowell have previously insisted that the show's team went "above and beyond" to ensure its contestants were looked after.

Cosmopolitan UK has reached out to ITV and representatives for Simon Cowell for comment.

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