'The X Factor' winners: Where are they now?

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The X Factor has been axed, but where are the winner's now? (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
The X Factor has been axed, but where are the winner's now? (Getty Images)

The X Factor dominated Saturday night TV in it's heyday, but ITV have now confirmed there are "no current plans" for another series of Simon Cowell's brainchild. 

It doesn't come as much of a surprise seeing as it's been off air for several years and ratings were said to have fallen considerably in its last few seasons. 

But considering the cultural juggernaut it once was, it does mark the end of an era. 

Read more: Fleur East says X Factor should 'come with a warning' for young music stars

It managed 15 series during its run, meaning there have been 15 winners of the competition. 

Some have been more successful than others, but here's what they're up to now...

Steve Brookstein

Steve Brookstein, the show's first winner, has repeatedly critcised The X Factor. (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
Steve Brookstein, the show's first winner, has repeatedly critcised The X Factor. (Getty Images)

The contest's first winner has gone on to become one of its biggest critics since his 2004 triumph. 

Steve Brookstein was dropped from his record deal just months after he found success with his debut album and went on to accuse The X Factor of “killing music to make light entertainment”.

He also detailed his experiences in a book Getting over the X, which was released in 2014. 

In 2019, he called for the show to offer better aftercare to its contestants, claiming that it had acted as a "trigger" in worsening his mental health. 

While he has kept up with making music, he hasn't yet recaptured his former commercial triumphs. 

Shayne Ward

Shayne Ward has found success in acting as well as singing. (Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage)
Shayne Ward has found success in acting as well as singing. (WireImage)

Shayne Ward was the first X Factor winner to release an original song as his winner's single and That's My Goal proved to be a huge success in 2005. 

It was followed up by his eponymous debut album that topped the Ireland and UK albums charts. His second album Breathless released in 2007 didn't quite reach the same dizzying heights as his first, but it still debuted at number two in the UK, only held off by Leona Lewis' debut album (but more on her later).

Read more: Shayne Ward shows off body transformation

Two more albums followed, but then TV acting came calling after some stage work and he took on the role of Aidan Connor on Coronation Street in 2015, bowing out in 2018 as part of a male suicide storyline. 

He made a return to music last month as he released brand new single, Crazy In Love

Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis has put out some major hits. (Getty)
Leona Lewis has put out some major hits. (Getty)

The softly-spoken Leona Lewis has a voice that packs a punch and it won her the 2006 series. 

Her debut studio album Spirit stormed to the top of the chart with Bleeding Love becoming a huge hit and the best-selling single of 2007. 

She's even managed the feat of a successful Christmas song as One More Sleep, released in 2013, has become a festive playlist favourite. 

After four studio albums with Syco she parted ways with the label in 2014, with her latest studio album I Am released in 2015.

Lewis is currently working on new music but it also set to go on tour with Gary Barlow later this year. 

Leon Jackson

Leon Jackson has kept a lower profile than most X Factor winners. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Leon Jackson has kept a lower profile than most X Factor winners. (Getty Images)

Scottish singer Leon Jackson was surprise outsider winner of the show in 2007, but like his predecessors his debut single was a massive hit. 

His subsequent album and second single managed moderate success but he was ultimately dropped by Syco. 

Read more: Jedward call Simon Cowell 'nothing but a bad facelift'

Jackson has yet to produce a second studio album and has kept a lower profile than most X Factor winners though also has songwriting credits to his name, penning a song for The Voice UK finalist Vince Kidd in 2012. 

Alexandra Burke

Alexandra Burke has found success on stage. (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
Alexandra Burke has found success on stage. (Getty Images)

Alexandra Burke gave the entertainment show one of its most memorable moments when she was visibly overcome with emotion at performing with Beyonce during the show's 2008 final. 

Her winner's single, a cover of Hallelujah, was a big success as was the debut album that followed. 

In 2020, Burke opened up about the racism she'd experienced in the music industry saying she had been told to bleach her skin and avoid wearing braids or afro hairstyle. 

The songstress was a runner-up on Strictly in 2017 while this year she won star baker in an episode of The Great Celebrity Bake Off

Theatre has also been a successful avenue for Burke, who's starred in Chicago, The Bodyguard and Sister Act The Musical in the West End. 

There was some exciting news announced last month as it was revealed she will feature in Dionne Edwards' upcoming film Pretty Red Dress.  

Joe McElderry

Joe McElderry has continued with his music career and worked on the stage. (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
Joe McElderry has continued with his music career and worked on the stage. (Getty Images)

Baby-faced Joe McElderry won the X Factor at the tender age of 18 in 2009. 

However, he was a denied a Christmas number one after a Facebook campaign critical of the show's dominance in the festive charts successfully got Rage Against The Machine's Killing in the Name to the top spot. 

McElderry has released five albums with varying degrees of success while other achievements include winning Popstar to Operastar in 2011.

Like other stars from the show, he's also enjoyed theatre roles including a stint as the lead in a touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

McElderry, who released new single Baby Had Your Fun this year, is set to tour later in 2021.

Matt Cardle

Matt Cardle won the X Factor in 2010. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Matt Cardle won The X Factor in 2010. (Getty Images)

It's strange to think One Direction didn't win their X Factor series considering the huge global phenomenon they went on to become, but it was Matt Cardle who was triumphant in 2010. 

He scored the Christmas number one that year and put out an album that debuted at number two in the UK Charts. 

Read more: Matt Cardle says drug addiction nearly killed him

The writers of his single Amazing sued Ed Sheeran for plagiarism in 2016 in a case that was eventually settled, though Cardle said it was "not [his] lawsuit" and that he thought Sheeran was a "genius".

Subsequent albums haven't been quite as successful though he's still putting out new music, releasing two singles this year from his upcoming fifth album. 

Little Mix

Little Mix were the first group to win The X Factor. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Little Mix were the first group to win The X Factor. (PA Images via Getty Images)

The first group to ever win the competition became one of its greatest success stories, racking up hit after hit in the years since their 2011 victory. 

Little Mix, originally made up of Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Perrie Edwards, have seen their six albums spawn hits like Black Magic, Shout Out To My Ex and Sweet Melody

Watch: Little Mix get their own waxworks at Madame Tussauds

Their most recent album, Confetti, peaked at number two in the UK Albums Chart. It will be the last record to feature Nelson, however, as she announced her departure from the group last year. 

Pinnock, Thirlwall and Edwards remain, although all four were recently honoured with their own waxworks at Madame Tussauds London

James Arthur

James Arthur has had continued success in the charts. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/WireImage)
James Arthur has had continued success in the charts. (WireImage)

James Arthur released a cover of Shontelle's Impossible after winning in 2012 and it topped the charts upon its release. 

His debut album came it at number two although controversy followed in 2013 after he was slammed for using homophobic lyrics, something he later apologised for. 

Read more: James Arthur says he was left to his own devices after X Factor

After Twitter spats with comedians Frankie Boyle and Matt Lucas, and singer Lucy Spraggan he handed over control of his account to his management. 

Arthur's second studio album was a success too landing at number one with his follow-up You in 2019 debuting at number two. 

He leant his vocals to top 10 hit Lasting Lover with DJ Sigala last year and his fourth album is slated for release later in 2021. 

Sam Bailey

X Factor winner Sam Bailey with a copy of her new single at an HMV Store in Leicester.
X Factor winner Sam Bailey with a copy of her new single at an HMV Store in Leicester.

Sam Bailey hit a number one with her winner's single Skyscraper but was dropped by Simon Cowell's Syco label a year later. 

At the time she told fans she was "genuinely happy" with the decision. Her latest album, Sing My Heart Out, was released in 2016. 

The mother-of-three has found success on the stage as she's played Mamma Morton in a UK tour of Chicago and starred in Fat Friends - The Musical

Later this summer, she will portray Mrs Potts in the Beauty and the Beast Musical in a new UK tour. 

Ben Haenow

Ben Haenow won The X Factor in 2014. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
Ben Haenow won The X Factor in 2014. (Getty Images)

The 2014 champ Ben Haenow scored a Christmas number one but failed to follow-up the success with another hit. 

A duet with American Idol’s Kelly Clarkson peaked at number 21 in the charts and by 2016 he had split from Syco.

He's still making music, putting out two singles last year including a cover of Blondie's Heart of Glass

Louisa Johnson

Louisa Johnson is the show's youngest ever winner. (PA)
Louisa Johnson is the show's youngest ever winner. (PA)

Louisa Johnson, known as simply Louisa, was 2015's The X Factor victor aged just 17-year-old. 

Read more: Louisa Johnson says she's 'happy in her skin'

Although her winner's single Forever Young debuted at a disappointing number nine, she provided vocals on Clean Bandit's Tears the following year which was a commercial success. 

Her further musical efforts haven't been so well received though she maintains a popular presence on social media with 800,000 followers on Instagram

Matt Terry

Matt Terry failed to get a number one with his winner's single. (PA)
Matt Terry failed to get a number one with his winner's single. (PA)

After winning the 2016 final Matt Terry's winner's single When Christmas Comes Around, which was co-written by Ed Sheeran, failed to make it to number one. 

His debut album Trouble peaked at number 29 and he was dropped from his record label, RCA Records, the following year. 

He went on to star in the UK production of Madagascar - The Musical and continues to put out music, regularly sharing covers to his YouTube channel.

Rak-Su

Rak-Su wrote their own winner's single. (Photo by Neil P. Mockford/Getty Images)
Rak-Su wrote their own winner's single. (Getty Images)

Rak-Su have the unique distinction of being the only winners to pen their own winner's single. 

When they won in 2017, their song Dimelo entered the entered the charts at number two while they had also racked up four iTunes hits. 

They went on to support X Factor alum Little Mix during a 2018 tour and Olly Murs in 2019. 

The group, made up of Ashley Fongho, Jamaal Shurland, Myles Stephenson and Mustafa Rahimtulla, have continued to release singles in the years since and released their latest EP back in April. 

Dalton Harris

Dalton Harris could be The X Factor's last ever winner. (Photo by Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns)
Dalton Harris could be The X Factor's last ever winner. (Redferns)

Dalton Harris may well be the X Factor's last ever victor given the news it's been axed. 

The Jamaica-born star can still be seen regularly posting singing videos to his TikTok too, where he has over 38,000 followers. 

He also recently celebrated getting 1 million hits on the video to his song Cry.

Meanwhile, he's has also kept fans updated with his fitness journey on Instagram.

Watch: Simon Cowell reportedly axes The X Factor after 17 years

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