Former contestant Tom Richards will make an emotional return to the X Factor tomorrow night, coming face-to-face with old friend Louis Tomlinson, who had auditioned in the same year as Richards in 2010. Yet while Tomlinson went on to be part of pop sensation One Direction, Richards never made it past Judges’ Houses, where he was sent home by Dannii Minogue.
This week he decides to give it another go. After a friendly greeting from Tomlinson (“Hello, hello! How are we, lad, we know each other!”), the 24 year-old Welshman will audition for his second chance at stardom with James Bay’s Let it go. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to see if it’s enough to impress the judges, but suffice to say, it is not his only song…
Richards was only a fresh-faced 16 year-old when he first auditioned for the X Factor. He failed to totally impress the judges with first song, The Script’s The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, and his second choice – This is the Moment, from the Jekyll & Hyde musical – didn’t do much better. Simon Cowell didn’t see him as a pop star, but judge Louis Walsh saw “brilliant potential” in him and he got three yeses.
Having made it through boot camp by singing Wings’ Live and Let Die, and then to Judges’ Houses, Richards was sent home by Dannii Minogue after his performance of Feel by Robbie Williams. “The only thing that bothers me,” said Minogue upon hearing him sing, “is that every word is presented like he’s in a musical.”
Funny she should say that. Following his rejection from the X Factor, Richards would go on to spend a year in Saturday Night Fever on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and then land a role in the Asian tour of the West End production of Les Miserables.
Still, Richards does admit tomorrow night that he is “a little bit jealous” of Louis Tomlinson’s One Direction success.
“It’s been eight years,” he says. “I feel like I have unfinished business with the show.