Steve Brookstein calls for 'The X Factor' to offer better aftercare to contestants

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Steve Brookstein (winner of the first series of X-Factor in 2004) performs on stage at Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho on January 12, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Andy Sheppard/Redferns)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12: Steve Brookstein (winner of the first series of X-Factor in 2004) performs on stage at Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho on January 12, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Andy Sheppard/Redferns)

Steve Brookstein has said appearing on The X Factor acted as a trigger for his own mental health problems and he was left feeling abandoned.

The 50-year-old singer - who won the first series of the ITV reality contest in 2004 - admitted he had a history of mental illness but had not been asked about his past before going on the show.

Brookstein told Yahoo that after winning The X Factor, the support he had from producers went from “excessive and superficial” to “zero”.

The Against All Odds singer said: “That was the thing that a lot of contestants felt and have continued to feel year after year - as soon as the cameras stop rolling you went from someone who had a lot of support to having zero.

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“For me it was excessive support. I can do up my own belt, I can do up my shoelaces! That was the the superficial support you got.

“I can remember being told, ‘You’re a star, you’ve got act like a star.’ I remember thinking I don’t feel like a star. I’m a regular bloke who sings. As soon as they put that into your head I can see how people lose the plot with the egos.

“To go from being treated like a superstar and having to act like a superstar to suddenly being told, ‘You’re nothing, you’re s***.’ There are a hell of lot of mind f***s that go on. So people should be prepared.”

Brookstein revealed: “I did have a background of mental health issues and child abuse issues, but they were way behind me. Ironically when I went on The X Factor I was in a really good place. I had come to terms with my past. It acted as a trigger.”

Former X Factor winner Steve Brookstein arrives with his girlfriend Eileen Hunter at the fifth annual Sony Entertainment Asian Sports Personality Of The Year Awards at the Hilton Hotel, central London, Saturday February 4, 2006. The awards recognise the substantial achievements of British Asian sporting talents from across the United Kingdom. Watch for PA story SPORT Awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Rebecca Reid/PA

He went on: “The media can be harsh and say really unkind things about people. They don’t really prepare you for that, you’re not really aware of it until they happen to you.”

The singer also admitted the stress of being on the show had impacted on his personal life at the time.

Brookstein said: “It isn’t nice when in front of 8 million people you’re called a fake, a liar, and totally undermined as a person. I showed my frustration in other ways. I became short tempered at home.

“I consider myself lucky - I had a bad time, it was difficult on me, but through God’s help and my family and my loved one and my wife, I stayed strong. Some people don’t have that support structure and they will need that support in the firms that make these TV shows.

“They need to put support in place.”

MPs have now launched an inquiry into reality TV following the cancellation of The Jeremy Kyle Show. The ITV daytime talk show has been axed following the suspected suicide of one of its guests, calling to question the duty of aftercare to reality TV contestants.

Read more: 'Jeremy Kyle Show' guest Steve Dymond called producers '300 times' to appear on the show

The Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) will consider production companies’ duty of care to participants taking part in reality shows and explore whether enough support is offered both during and after filming.

ITV has also faced scrutiny over its support for reality show talent following the deaths of former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.

If you’ve been affected by this story and want to talk to someone, you can call the Samaritans free on 116 123 or at

Yahoo has contacted The X Factor for comment.