Rating every X Factor judging panel by their successes

We’re on the edge of our seats waiting to find out what the new X Factor judge line-up will look like when it’s announced in the next few weeks.

Will Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda be helping to build dreams alongside Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne? Which other celebs will we see sticking their hooters in? We’ll just have to wait and see.

For now though, lets take a look back the ever-changing judging panels, see how they dealt with each other and the selection of the stars they handpicked.

Series One – 2004

Who: Way back in 2004, X Factor kicked off its rollercoaster journey with a judging panel consisting of Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh. While we were already familiar with the sharp tongue of Mrs O and the eccentric ramblings of Louis, we hadn’t yet experienced the wonder of Simon. As it turned out he was a sharp-tongued superstar whose cruel put-downs were scaldingly mean but refreshingly accurate.

Who made it to the final: The series featured an array of by-numbers talent-show hopefuls, but when it came down to it the final three we were left with an Irish rocker with dyed black hair called Tabby Callaghan, geeky popera band G4 and handsome crooner Steve Brookstein.

Friction: While the judges teased each other about how much better they were than the others, Sharon took her rivalry to the next level when on final night she launched a scathing attack on Steve, branding him “full of crap” and “an average singer”. In his book, ‘Getting Over The X’, Steve also made various accusations about Sharon’s conduct on the show, claiming she also tried to sabotage one of his live interviews by banging on his dressing-room wall.

Talent spotters? DISTINCTLY AVERAGE!

Tabby disappeared with out trace, G4 released several hit albums and Steve Brookstein… well, he released a No.1 album, then had a fall out with Simon Cowell and wrote a scathing but incredibly delicious expose on The X Factor.

Series Two – 2005

Who: Same team as before.

Who made it to the final? Shayne Ward, binman Andy Abrahams and Journey South.

Friction: In week six, Louis chose The Conway sisters over Sharon’s act Maria Lawson, who was then kicked off the show. Furious, Sharon laid into Louis accusing him of being part of the “Irish Mafia”, since both he and The Conway Sisters are Irish. Cowell backed his own act Nicholas Doresett (who?) to eliminate Lawson but said that if he had to go with his heart, he would have sent his own act home as he felt he had no chance of winning. Harsh!

Talent spotters: BETTER THAN AVERAGE

Shayne Ward had two hit albums (and a third that didn’t do all that well). Andy did Eurovision, and Journey South…well, your guess is as good as ours.

Series Three – 2006

Line-up? Sharon, Louis and Simon returned, now joined by mad-as-a-hatter Paula Abdul as guest judge.

Who made it to the final? Leona Lewis, Ray Quinn, Ben Mills

Friction: Just the usual Sharon-Simon-Louis bickering.

Talent spotters: 110% BETTER THAN LAST TIME

Leona Lewis was heralded one of the greatest singers to be found on a talent show and went on to release a series of smash hit albums, Ray Quinn released a swing album and enjoyed a career on the stage before becoming an ice-skating legend on Dancing On Ice and Ben Mills…. answers on a postcard.

Series Four – 2007

Line-up? Sharon and Simon were back but Louis was initially sacked and replaced by choreographer Brian Friedman. Aussie pop starlet Dannii Minogue was also added to the line up.

Who made it to the final? Same Difference, Rhydian Roberts, Leon Jackson

Friction: How can we put it… To say that Sharon and Dannii never got on is an understatement, but little did we know at the time that Simon and Dannii were actually enjoying a secret fling. Sharon wrote in her autobiography: “Outwardly, Dannii seemed all ‘Ooh, I love kids and puppies.’ But in my opinion she was dark, very dark. What you saw was definitely not what you got.”

Not only that, Brian Friedman lasted a week on the judging panel and was swiftly replaced by a returning Louis. Simon claimed he was needed on the creative side, but the bitchier amongst us thought it as because he sucked.


Rhydian Roberts went on to perform sell-out shows, Same Difference released two albums and Leon Jackson bombed and disappeared but now looks hot.

Series Five – 2008

Line-up? Simon, Louis and Dannii returned, but Sharon O could no longer work with Dannii so jumped ship. In her place Simon invited Girls Aloud legend Cheryl Cole.

Who made it to the final? Eoghan Quigg, Alexandra Burke, JLS

Friction: Aside from the silly banter between Louis and Simon, it was a peaceful panel. Shock horror – Dannii and Cheryl actually got on, in spite of the attempts by the press to create a rivalry between the two.

Talent spotters: “WE DIDN’T LIKE IT…WE LOVED IT!

In one of the best finals ever, Alexandra duetted with Beyoncé, which helped her beat JLS into second place. Alex went on to release two hit albums, work the West End stage and land a spot on Strictly. JLS released a series of smash hit albums. Eoghan continues to work in Northern Ireland.

Series Six – 2009

Line-up? Simon, Louis, Dannii and Cheryl returned to judge the hopefuls.

Who made it to the final? Joe McElderry, Olly Murs, Stacey Solomon.

Friction: Simon, Louis and Cheryl bickered over the divisive Jedward!


Joe McElderry enjoyed a successful stage career, Olly Murs went on to be a sensation and brief X Factor host. Stacey Solomon turned her back on music to become one of the Loose Women and Jedward became global sensations. They’re in Sharknado 3, 4 and 5 you know.

Series Seven – 2010

Line-up? Simon, Louis (with dyed brown hair), Cheryl and Dannii returned but as the Aussie judge took time out of auditions because she was pregnant, a series of guests such as Geri Halliwell, Katy Perry, Nicole Scherzinger, Natalie Imbruglia and Pixie Lott kept her seat warm.

Who made it to the final? One Direction, Rebecca Ferguson, Matt Cardle

Friction: Cheryl and Louis started spatting over contestants and Dannii and ITV2 host Konnie Huq shared a frosty moment during a panel interview, when Konnie suggested Dannii had taken her eye off the ball.


Well, One Direction did all right, Rebecca Ferguson enjoyed a critically acclaimed career, while winner Matt Cardle got ditched, though recently made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it comeback.Cher Lloyd also went onto have success in the US.

Series Eight – 2011

Line-up? It was all change this year, as Simon ducked out and was replaced by head judge Gary Barlow, while Cheryl and Dannii made way for Tulisa and Kelly Rowland. Couldn’t shake Louis though. Always got to have Louis.

Who made it to the final? Little Mix, Marcus Collins, Amelia Lily.

Friction: Kelly and Louis clashed over Frankie Cocozza. It also emerged that Tulisa didn’t get on with the ex Destiny’s Child star.

Talent spotters: THEY NAILED IT

Marcus Collins became a huge star in the west end, Amelia had a string of big hits and before becoming a west end star and Celebrity Big Brother housemate and Little Mix became a global sensation.

Series Nine – 2012

Line-up? Gary Barlow, Tulisa and Louis returned, joined by Nicole Scherzinger replacing Kelly Rowland.

Who made it to the final? James Arthur, Jahmene Douglas, Christopher Maloney

Friction: Gary got shady with Tulisa had a close-up hoo-ha over Christopher Maloney, spitting out the classic line: “I don’t know what’s offended me more; what you’ve said or your fag-ash breath!”


Christopher Maloney did summer seasons, Jahmene Douglas released a couple of albums while James Arthur became a critically acclaimed (if controversial) star.

Series Ten – 2013

Line-up? Gary , Louis and Nicole returned, and were joined by Sharon O who replaced outgoing Tulisa.

Who made it to the final? Luke Friend, Nicholas McDonald, Sam Bailey

Friction: Just the usual, bickering, bantering, bashing… Zzzzz….

Talent spotters: YOU’RE GOING HOME

One of the most lacklustre finales ever, in which Nicole tried to shamelessly outsing her protégé Sam Bailey. Sam went on to release successful Mother’s Day albums and enjoyed a stint in Chicago. The other two? Who knows?

Series Eleven – 2014

Line-up? All change again… Simon Cowell returned after launching the flop X Factor USA and was joined by Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis. Tulisa made a brief return when Mel B was ill.

Who made it to the final? Ben Haenow, Fleur East, Andrea Faustini

Friction: Mel B was pretty spicy with the panel but the focus was more on her personal life at the time when she failed to turn up for one of the live shows.

Talent spotters: COME BACK NEXT YEAR

Another terrible year for talent, packed with contestants with zero charisma. Handsome Ben released an album and faded away fast, Fleur unleashed a corker of a tune called Sax but her watched her career die swiftly afterwards and the super cute Andrea released an album with a terrible title (Kelly) and went back to Italy.

Series Twelve – 2015

Line-up? Talk about spinning chairs…King Simon and Queen Cheryl returned, joined by Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw.

Who made it to the final? Che Chesterton, Reggie ‘n’ Bollie, Louisa Johnson

Friction: Cheryl and Simon bickered over contestants, while Rita looked pretty and Nick, er, stayed awake, just about.

Talent spotters: WE’RE GOING TO DEADLOCK

Wishy-washy finalists. Che didn’t amount to much, R’n’B had a hit and Louisa, bless her, keeps trying her luck on the charts but is oblivious to the fact no one seems to care.

Series Thirteen – 2016

Line-up? More change, but a good one this time, as Simon, Louis, Sharon and Nicole were reunited – aaah, a dream team!

Who made it to the final? Matt Terry, Saara Aalto, 5 After Midnight

Friction: Aside from the tiresome panto bickering, it was all hunky dory on this panel.

Talent spotters: YOU SMASHED IT

A great year for talent. Saara Aalto was the stand-out star (even if Sharon kept forgetting her name) and went on to release an amazing pop album called Wild Wild Wonderland. Matt Terry released an album but failed to have hits and is now in the stage version of Madagascar. 5 After Midnight have surprisingly disappeared without trace.

Series Fourteen – 2017

Line-up? Wow, no changes this year, though Alesha stepped in when Nicole was off filming elsewhere and Simon fell down the stairs.

Who made it to the final? Rak-su, Grace Davies, Kevin Davy White

Friction: It was holiday-camp fun this year! Boringly.


Another great year: Grace turned out to be a superb songwriter, even if she did look a bit like caberet star Nikki French, Kevin was a French cool cat while Rak-Su were a sensation with their show tracks charting every week. Even fourth place Lloyd Macey has gone on to have a hit.

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