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The X Factor was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon when it launched in 2004 on ITV.

As well as giving the world some of the most popular artists of all time – such as One Direction and Little Mix – it was also known for its special mega-guest stars, comedic auditions and outrageous scraps.

ITV has now said there are “no plans” for another series of The X Factor. In the talent show’s honour, we’ve rounded up just some of its most memorable moments.


During the final in the 2008 series of the show, Beyoncé shocked viewers across the UK by turning up to sing a duet with contestant Alexandra Burke, who went on to win the show.

Starting to sing Listen from Dreamgirls, Burke went on to say: “Ladies and gentlemen, I absolutely cannot believe I’m about to introduce this woman to the stage. Please welcome, my hero Beyoncé.”

Burke told Beyoncé that she had made her “dreams come true” after their performance. The A-lister returned the praise, telling the judges: “She’s a superstar. Such a beautiful voice and such a beautiful young lady. I’m very, very happy to sing with you tonight.”

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Other guest stars throughout the years included Robbie Williams (who came in too early on his own track, Angels) joining Olly Murs. George Michael came on stage to join Joe McElderry, while Michael Bublé performed a duet with Stacey Solomon.

Rylan sobbing after being told he’s through to the live shows

It’s not only a highlight in The X Factor’s history – it’s probably one of the best moments we’ve seen on British television.

Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but Rylan crying in front of Nicole Scherzinger after being told he’ll be in the live shows is truly memorable.

Before he was known as one of the kings of light entertainment, Rylan Clark appeared on The X Factor in 2012, and was mentored by The Pussycat Dolls lead singer.

After being told he would be performing in the Saturday night live shows during the Judges’ Houses stage (read: plush hotel in Dubai) he launched into an uncontrollable crying fit.

He admits in his autobiography that it lasted 23 minutes, and that paramedics had to be called. That was after rubbing his face on the hotel’s $2,500 Versace cushions – whoops!

Clarke came a respectable fifth that year, with the crown going to James Arthur.

The “novelty” acts that managed to win over the British public

They were often relentlessly mocked, but sometimes the acts the judges hated were the ones we loved the most.

Yes, I’m talking about the likes of Jedward, Wagner and Honey G – who all went great guns in the live shows, despite judges often feeling like they shouldn’t.

Jedward (who have since turned on the show and celebrated its downfall) were the excitable teens with spiky hair who were mentored by fellow Irishman Louis Walsh.

Their well-produced, energetic performances often drew some pretty sharp criticism from the judges – but it didn’t seem to matter because they were fun. John and Edward came sixth in 2009, proving they won a sizeable fan base among the British public.

The pair went on to have a pop career AND represent Ireland at Eurovision… twice. They are now advocates for a number of good causes and both have modelling contracts.

Elsewhere, 2010’s Wagner is largely remembered for singing most of his songs while playing his bongo drums – and landed in sixth place thanks to public votes.

While Honey G from 2016 was largely branded as a novelty act (including by judge Nicole Scherzinger), she controversially rapped her way into fifth place.

But that support only went so far – she released a single called The Honey G Show on Simon Cowell’s record label, which only peaked at 149 in the charts.


Cousins and best friends Abbie and Lisa came together to perform as AbLisa (clever) and made it on to the arena auditions in 2010.

Things went south from almost the minute they stepped on stage though – calling Louis Walsh an “old man” and telling the audience to “shut up” when they began laughing at them.

They sang an out-of-time and out-of-key version of That’s My Goal – a song by former winner Shayne Ward – for the judges and the now hostile crowd.

Of course, the panel made their true thoughts known to the pair before Lisa asked Natalie Imbruglia: “Who are you?”

It got heated on stage, which culminated in Abbie punching Lisa and walking off stage.

The pair were kept apart backstage after their small tussle, with Dermot O’Leary telling Abbie: “You cannot strike people.”

Unsurprisingly, it was four noes – but their clip has been seen more than 130 million times on YouTube.

The auditions – especially the bad ones

It’s why most of us tuned in, right? To see some of the truly awful auditions that made the cut.

There are of course too many to remember, but among those that stick are the likes Ant and Seb giving us their best rendition of Mysterious Girl (“come on, move your body”) or Debbie Stevens who reacted to negative feedback by saying she wanted to slap Louis Walsh.

Other notable auditions that will stick in our heads for years to come include Holly, who became known as “cave mouth”; Kelly, whose family intervened after her multi-key performance of I Will Always Love You saw her rejected; and Onkar, who slammed to his knees at the culmination of his Earth Song rendition.

And who can forget Rachel Lester, who Simon Cowell said was his worst audition ever. She told judges “whatever song you want me to sing I’ll do it” – adding she was better than most big singers.

That’s a bold claim for someone that walked away with four noes after a pitchy (at best) performance of Sugar Walls by Sheena Easton. It then descended into chaos – and she used some fruity language to tell the judges what she really thought of them before security dragged her out.

ONLY THE YOUNG!, Lee Nelson’s stage invasion and JLS’ meme-worthy “Merry Christmas!”

Even the tightly produced live shows gave us some unexpected moments.

It might be niche, but the holler of “ONLY THE YOUNG” from the crowd every week in 2014 got the nation talking.

Like clockwork, the group’s biggest fan would scream the band’s name during the elimination section of the show every week.

The stunt prompted articles, radio discussions and copycats at other events.

Lee Nelson made The X Factor his victim in 2014 – by jumping on stage to perform You Are Not Alone with Stereo Kicks.

The comic appeared next to the lads and tried to fit in before security grabbed him.

Both Cowell and Walsh were frantically waving their arms to try and force Nelson off the stage.

And what about the over-enthusiastic “Merry Christmas” from JLS’s JB during their Last Christmas performance in 2008?

Seemingly innocuous, it went on to inspire memes that are still used today – including on TikTok.

It also made Harry Hill’s TV Burp – with the comic relentlessly mocking the moment.

And finally… the judges

The shows revolving door of judges gave viewers some of the best moments in The X Factor’s history.

Among some of the best moments is Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne having to be told off by gaffer Simon Cowell one year for bursting into uncontrollable laughter after a particularly bad audition.

They were sent into the corridor to go and chill out – but matters were made worse when Osbourne walked into a door – setting the pair off yet again.

And in 2012, Gary Barlow and Tulisa came to blows – when the Take That star responded to criticism from the N-Dubz singer by saying: “I don’t know what offends me more, those comments or that fag ash breath.”

Barlow later apologised for his comments, but Tulisa quickly retorted with: “Just a note for Gary – lay off the red wine, coz’ I can really smell that as well.”

The X Factor, we will miss you.

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Prince Harry says Royal Family ‘without doubt’ withheld information from him on phone hacking




Prince Harry says Royal Family 'without doubt' withheld information from him on phone hacking

Prince Harry has said the Royal Family withheld information from him about phone hacking because they didn’t want him to bring a claim as it would “open a can of worms”.

In a witness statement submitted before his civil claim against Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers, the Duke of Sussex said that he was “conditioned to accept” his family’s rule to “never complain, never explain” when dealing with the press.

But discussing phone hacking claims against News Group Newspapers, Harry said “I became aware that I had a claim that I could bring” in 2018.

Prince Harry v Daily Mail publisher – latest

“The Institution was without a doubt withholding information from me for a long time about NGN’s phone hacking and that has only become clear in recent years as I have pursued my own claim with different legal advice and representation,” he said.

Earlier in his submission he said he would refer to the Royal Family as “the Institution”.

The prince is among a group of claimants, including Sir Elton John, Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost, against Associated Newspapers accusing them of numerous breaches of privacy. The publisher denies all the allegations.

Speaking about how he found out other people within or associated with the Royal Family had brought phone hacking claims against the press, he says: “It is not an exaggeration to say that the bubble burst in terms of what I knew in 2020 when I moved out of the United Kingdom.”

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He went on: “There was never any centralised discussion between us about who had brought claims as each office in the Institution is siloed.

“There is this misconception that we are all in constant communication with one another but that is not true.”

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The prince added: “The Institution made it clear that we did not need to know anything about phone hacking and it was made clear to me that the Royal Family did not sit in the witness box because that could open up a can of worms.”

He went on to say the Royal Family’s “strict no comment policy” meant that “even the worst or most suspicious articles were often never brought to my attention”.

Ending his written statement to the court, Prince Harry said he was “bringing this claim because I love my country and I remain deeply concerned by the unchecked power, influence and criminality” of the publisher.

“The British public deserve to know the full extent of this cover up and I feel it is my duty to expose it,” he added.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on Prince Harry’s remarks.

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MI5 raises terror threat in Northern Ireland to ‘severe’ – meaning attack highly likely




MI5 raises terror threat in Northern Ireland to 'severe' - meaning attack highly likely

The terror threat level in Northern Ireland has increased from “substantial” to “severe” meaning an attack is highly likely, the government has said.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris told the House of Commons that the decision was made by MI5, independent of ministers.

In a written ministerial statement he said: “MI5 has increased the threat to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism from ‘SUBSTANTIAL’ (an attack is likely) to ‘SEVERE’ (an attack is highly likely).

“The public should remain vigilant, but not be alarmed, and continue to report any concerns they have to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).”

The cabinet minister said while Northern Ireland has transformed into a peaceful society since the Troubles, “a small number of people remain determined to cause harm to our communities through acts of politically motivated violence”.

He said recent months have seen an “increase in levels of activity relating to Northern Ireland Related Terrorism, which has targeted police officers” – pointing to the attempted murder of DCI Caldwell.

He went into pay tribute to the “tremendous efforts” of the police in Northern Ireland and security partners, “and the determination and resilience of the Northern Ireland people, who are making Northern Ireland a safer place to live and work”.

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“The political future of Northern Ireland rests with the democratic will of the people and not the violent actions of the few. Together we will ensure there is no return to the violence of the past.”

The UK has five terror threat levels which are:

Low – an attack is highly unlikely

Moderate – an attack is possible, but not likely

Substantial – an attack is likely – this is the UK’s national threat level

Severe – an attack is highly likely

Critical – an attack is highly likely in the near future

Last March the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland was lowered from “severe” to “substantial”, marking the first reduction in 12 years.

The national threat level to the whole of the UK remains at substantial, meaning an attack is likely.

The change to Northern Ireland’s status comes ahead of a planned visit by US President Joe Biden to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to the region after decades of violence.

Addressing the increased terror threat, Chief Constable Simon Byrne said it is part of an “ongoing process of monitoring the threat level in Northern Ireland, which is conducted by MI5”.

He added: “We will relentlessly pursue those who seek to cause harm and terrorise our communities, and attack my officers and staff, and I pay tribute to them as they continue to deliver for our communities.

“I would also like to thank the community and political leaders of Northern Ireland for their overwhelming support for the Police Service in recent times.

“We will not be deterred from delivering a visible, accessible and responsive community focused policing service to keep people safe.”

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‘Corrosive’ bullying culture at ‘toxic’ NHS trust could put patient care at risk, probe finds




'Corrosive' bullying culture at 'toxic' NHS trust could put patient care at risk, probe finds

A culture of bullying at one of England’s biggest NHS trusts could put the care of patients at risk, a report has found.

An independent review of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust (UHB) has found the number of patient deaths at the trust is higher than would be expected and has warned that “if the cultural environment at UHB has not already affected mortality it is likely to be affecting the patient experience and morbidity”.

The report revealed “extensive complaints” had been made by staff about the organisation’s conduct and that “many were concerned about the ‘toxic atmosphere and bullying at all levels of management'”.

It said the report team “heard many examples of concerning comments following a range of topics, including issues over promotion processes, bullying of staff (including junior doctors), and a fear of retribution if concerns were raised”.

It also highlights concerns around staffing levels. In November 2022, 13.35% of nursing posts at the trust were vacant, compared with an England average of 10%.

It warns that “any continuance of a culture that is corrosively affecting morale and in particular threatens long-term staff recruitment and retention will put at risk the care of patients”.

The report chaired by Professor Mike Bewick, a former deputy medical director at NHS England, who is now an independent consultant, was commissioned last year after a number of complaints were raised about the trust which employs 22,400 people across several sites and operates four major hospitals in the West Midlands.

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Father of junior doctor: ‘Our lives stopped on 22 June’

It followed the death by suicide of Dr Vaishnavi Kumar, 35, who was working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham when she took a fatal overdose in June of last year.

“She wrote a letter,” her father, Dr Ravi Kumar, told Sky News. “She very clearly mentioned that she was doing this because of the QE hospital.”

After taking the overdose she waited three hours to call an ambulance. Her father says that when paramedics arrived “she said under no circumstances was she going to the QE hospital”.

Dr Kumar says his daughter was “bright, fun-loving and compassionate” but things changed soon after she began working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Dr Vaishnavi Kumar took her own life in June 2022
Dr Vaishnavi Kumar took her own life in June 2022

“She started facing this toxic environment and she started getting a bit more worried and tearful,” he said, adding sometimes when she returned from work she would say “people are belittling her and demeaning her”.

The report found there was “considerable unrest and anger at the trust’s response” to Dr Kumar’s death, both from her family and “the wider junior doctor community”.

It also found that “this was not the first death by suicide of a doctor at UHB”.

It revealed there was “disappointment and anger” from staff at a lack of senior representation by the trust at Dr Kumar’s funeral, and that the trust only formally wrote to her family two months after her death.

Shockingly, the report found a senior member of staff within medical staffing was unaware of Dr Kumar’s death and emailed the medic personally 26 days after her death to ask why she had been removed from her post and if she was still being paid.

The report concluded the case showed a need for “a fundamental shift in the way an organisation demonstrably cares about its staff as people”.

Dr Kumar’s father said: “It makes me angry and at the same time worried about other junior doctors who are going to follow her.

“Our lives stopped on the 22 June and it’s very hard. Each day is a struggle.

“Now my main worry is to stop it happening to others and that is why I want to bring this forward so people realise that there is a toxic atmosphere.”

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham said: “Dr Vaishnavi Kumar was a much loved and respected doctor, who was popular with colleagues and patients alike. Her unexpected death was a tragedy and our heartfelt condolences remain with Vaishnavi’s family.

“We have reflected on our response to Vaishnavi’s death, have learnt lessons from this, and are acting on them.

“Dr Kumar wants his daughter’s death to result in improvements in the support offered to all doctors in training and to see a change in the culture of the trust. We are pleased that he has agreed to work with the trust on this.”

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Jonathan Brotherton, chief executive at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) said in response to the report’s findings: “Patients can continue to be confident that the care and treatment provided at our hospitals is safe. We are pleased that Professor Bewick’s overall view ‘is that the trust is a safe place to receive care’.

“We fully accept his recommendations and welcome the additional assurance that has been asked for through further independent oversight.

“There are a number of significant concerns that we need to, and have started to, address; we will continue to learn from the past, as we move forward.

“We want to develop a positive, inclusive work environment where people want to come to work, in a place that they are proud to work in, to do their very best for our patients. While we will not be able to fix things as quickly as I would like, we do need to do it as quickly as possible, for the benefit of patients and staff; I am committed to ensuring this happens.

“We must now focus on continuing to provide the best possible patient care, building a values-led culture and supporting our incredible colleagues.”

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

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