The X Factor is returning later this year – but not as we know it.
Instead of the usual wannabes from all across the country battling it out to become the next global singing sensation (or at least to have a punt at Christmas number one) the much maligned talent show is getting a facelift for 2019, being split into two smaller versions.
As well as a celebrity spin-off (which you can read about here) some of our favourite (and not-so-favourite) X Factor contestants will be back once more to be crowned the ultimate champion in a week-long extravaganza.
So which former X Factor stars will be returning? Here’s what we know so far.
Leona’s win in 2006 defined The X Factor, differentiating it from its trashier predecessors by actually having a winner that could, you know, actually sing.
Unlike former reality TV singers Hear’Say, Liberty X and Michelle McManus, Leona managed to buck the trend by enjoying a career with a bit of longevity, still churning out albums nearly ten years after her win.
Alexandra won the fifth series of The X Factor in 2008, and looked for a moment as if she was going to follow in Leona’s footsteps with her outstanding first album Overcome – featuring Broken Heels, Hallelujah and Bad Boys.
But after her second album Heartbreak on Hold failed to set the charts alight in 2012, Alexandra took a different direction with her career, featuring in musicals such as The Bodyguard, Sister Act and Chicago.
The second winner of The X Factor in 2005, Shayne was originally hailed as the British Justin Timberlake (no, seriously).
He had a brief flirtation with chart success with his first two albums, but things quickly went south after he was dropped by Cowell in 2010.
In more recent years, Shayne has turned to acting, playing Aidan Connor in Coronation Street, receiving widespread critical acclaim over how he portrayed the factory boss in his male suicide storyline.
Louis Walsh teased Shayne was returning for the Champions edition – will he be able to replicate the success he had fourteen years prior?
After winning the show in 2012, James Arthur has had a rollercoaster of a journey. Despite some chart success, he was quickly dropped from his label in 2014 for a series of controversial outbursts.
However, after he was offered a chance to straighten himself out by his label, James cleaned up his act and was welcomed back in 2016.
But while things are back on track for James, he’s less willing to relive the experience, telling the Metro, “I actually spoke to Simon about it but unfortunately I just don’t have the time.”
However, he would be happy to go back as a judge or a mentor to the former X Factor winners, adding to The Mirror, “I’m still signed to a record label so I don’t think it would be right for me to take part in that way, but I’d definitely be up for helping out in some way.
“Yes, I’d love to do that.”
Fleur East was the X Factor winner that never was; despite losing out to the (much-forgotten) Ben Haenow in 2014, it was Fleur that went on to have the most successful career – her cover of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk flew up the charts and her first single Sax reached number 3 in the UK.
However, her 2014 run at the X Factor title was not Fleur’s first time, having previously appeared on the show in 2005 as part of (terrible) girl band Addictiv Ladies.
And Fleur is reluctant to make it third time lucky.
“I don’t think I personally would because I did it the first time in 2005 as a group and then in 2014 and it went so well, it was so amazing I think the third time I’m pushing it,” she said on This Morning.
Could she change her mind?
Fleur did add, however, that fellow 2014 X Factor contestant Stevi Ritchie would be up for a comeback.
The 38-year-old was the resident joke act of the year, lucking his way through to the live shows after former judge Cheryl picked him to be the wildcard for the over 25’s just to annoy mentor Simon.
Apart from taking Cowell to the Harvesters, Stevi will probably be best remembered for his weird and unexpected romance with fellow contestant Chloe Jasmine Whichello.
The pair even appeared on Celebrity Big Brother together as a single housemate in 2015 – but as always, the path to “true” love never did run smooth, with the pair repeatedly breaking up and making up.
Jedward have said that producers are keen to invite them back on the show for a second go. While the pair were the novelty joke act in 2009, they’ve miraculously managed to forge relatively successful careers thanks to their ironic popularity.
“I can tell everybody that they’re trying desperately to get me and John,” Edward said while appearing on ITV’s Loose Women. “They’ve been emailing us.”
“They definitely want us,” John agreed.
But the duo are not keen on returning, with John adding, “I don’t want to go back and rewind what we’ve already done – we’ve progressed, we’ve got our own songs. I don’t want to go back and do Britney Spears or Ghostbusters.”
Series seven X Factor star Wagner (no surname necessary) is hoping to make a comeback on the Champions audition, promising to “bring the fun.”
The 63-year-old former PE teacher said to The Sun, “I think X Factor could do with some more interesting acts, not serious people who sing like they are suffering or dying. People at home watch and go ‘That’s boring.’ I make people smile wherever I go.”
“I’ll bring the fun. When I’m on stage I love it.”
For one scary moment in 2016, it looked as if ‘the realest chick in the game’ Honey G was actually going to win The X Factor.
Thankfully the nation came to its senses and Honey (real name Anna Gilford) crashed out before the semi-finals. Her debut single The Honey G Show only reached number 149 on the UK Singles Chart.
As a former superstar rapper by night and estate agent by day, Honey G is ready to hit the music scene again, throwing her cap into the ring for a champions version of The X Factor.
“I tick all the boxes,” she told The Sun. “Give the people what they want and what the people want is Honey G.
“Nobody wants to see anyone sing a power ballad. My prediction is if they do that they’ll stick with the low ratings. I think I am their best shot at getting Christmas No 1.”