Friday 23 February 2018

From prison officer to popstar... what the X Factor winners were before stardom

From prison officer to popstar... Sam Bailey won this year's X Factor
From prison officer to popstar... Sam Bailey won this year's X Factor

Aishling Phelan

Former prison warden Sam Bailey swapped her drab prison attire for a spectacular red embroidered gown as she sang her way to winning The X Factor, attracting more than one million votes.

The mum-of-two was formerly an officer at Gartree prison in Leicestershire but hoped that taking a shot at the hit talent show would change her life.

Walking away from her stressful life in the high security prison, she stunned the judging panel with her voice after she spoke of her life working with a male prison population.

The 36-year-old said a lot of the staff at work used to comment on her singing as she belted out tunes in her prison uniform.

Before auditioning she said, ''I'm a bit too old for it now but I've got to at least try haven't I?''

The show has transformed the lives of many of those who have entered, giving people the chance to swap sweeping brushes for a gleaming microphone.

James Arthur

Last year's winner James Arthur was homeless in the years before he entered the show, sleeping on park benches and friends’ sofas.

The talented songwriter admitted to sleeping rough because he didn't want to stay in his turbulent family home.

He opened up about his battle with depression and admitted that being on the show stopped him from taking his own life.

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James Arthur is suffering from acute exhaustion

Matt Cardle

X Factor 2010 winner Matt Cardle previously worked as a painter and decorator before trying his luck at auditions for the talent show.

He has previously admitted that he also signed up to an online agency to act as an escort when he was 'flat broke'.

However, as the show aired, some people from his hometown Essex contradicted the singer stating that he came from a comfortable middle-class family.

Leona Lewis

Pop star Leona Lewis attended the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School before wowing the judging panel back in 2006.

She previously worked as a receptionist to fund studio time and created an unreleased album called 'Twilight'.

The singer said that before appearing on X Factor, she worked hard to land a recording deal on her own but was unsuccessful.

Leona Lewis rose to fame after winning X Factor

Alexandra Burke

Hallelujah singer Alexandra Burke kickstarted her singing career early and began singing on stage at the age of 9 with her mother Melissa Bell, ex-Soul II Soul's member.

She participated in a TV show called "Star for a Night" and became the youngest contestant in the show.

The star worked as a singer at clubs across the UK and at 17, made her first appearance on The X Factor, making it to the final seven in Louis Walsh's 16-24 category.

Olly Murs

Pop singer and former Xtra Factor presenter Olly Murs worked as a recruitment consultant at Prime Appointments in his hometown Essex and performed as part of a covers band called the Small Town Blaggers.

Before entering the talent show, his short claim to fame was an appearance on the game show Deal or No Deal in 2007, where he won £10.

The Heart Skips a Beat singer had auditioned twice unsuccessfully for The XFactor and after three months of backpacking in Australia, returned to try again.

Olly Murs has been tipped to fill the vacancy on The Voice

Rebecca Ferguson

For soul singer Rebecca Ferguson, the ITV talent show provided her big break after years of having her demo recordings ignored by record labels and entering talent shows.

The Liverpool-born star had a tough upbringing living in poverty and on one occasion, being taken into a care home.

She was a busy mum from an early age, falling pregnant at 17 with her daughter Lillie May. She went on to have a son Karl Dures a year later.

Shayne Ward

In the early days, X Factor 2005 winner Shayne Ward was in a band called Destiny with two women performing at pubs, clubs and weddings.

In 2002, he reached the final thirty of Popstars: The Rivals, the television show that created one of the UK's most successful girlbands, Girls Aloud.

Before entering the X Factor when he was 20, he worked as a shop assistant.

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