ITV hit by fresh backlash as X factor star 'breaks NDAs' to blast broadcaster

​Rebecca Ferguson

Rebecca Ferguson says she has "lived through hell" thanks to ITV

Sam Montgomery

By Sam Montgomery

Published: 07/06/2023

- 16:02

Singer Rebecca Ferguson slams Carolyn McCall for spurning her ‘traumatic’ X Factor experience

X Factor runner up, Rebecca Ferguson, has launched a scathing account of initial exploitation, “abuse of power”, and subsequent legal challenges with ITV.

Ferguson, who came second in 2010 and went on to release four top 10 albums, claims to have broken NDAs by taking to Twitter to recount the “terrible foul play” at the broadcaster.

In an email to Ofcom, Ferguson claimed on Twitter that X Factor contestants were “forced into contracts without independent legal advice ... mentally manipulated and abused whilst having mental health problems ... reduced to tears due to pressure/bullying ... forced to sign to a management company with no freedom of choice (and) told if they refused they will be kicked off the show.”

In March 2021, Ferguson also emailed ITV leadership including Carolyn McCall “asking for an investigation of reality shows including codes of conduct, post show aftercare and freedom of choice of management”.

rebecca ferguson

Rebecca Ferguson


Ferguson, 36, who retired in 2021 to focus on “fighting for better treatment” for artists, claims to have been “fobbed off” by ITV and Ofcom.

ITV COO Sarah Clark is said to have replied by “apologising about any personal bad experiences but declining to investigate further - assuring there is commitment to have these procedures in place already and insisting that they follow a Duty of Care Charter”.

Proving her own account, Ferguson recalls that she was “required to sign two contracts, a managing and recording contract” and was told that refusal would result in her being “kicked off the show”.

The Liverpool-born singer added that she “had not been given a copy of the terms and conditions” and “didn’t have any access to independent legal advice or a solicitor”.

X Factor judges

X Factor ran from 2004 until it was cancelled in 2021, though no season has aired since 2018


Though she believes she has “lived through hell”, Ferguson consoles herself in knowledge that she’s “done what I had to survive and to remain strong for my family,” and wishes now to channel her experience into helping others.

She said: “I have had many a court case trying to break free from the wrongdoings and now I want to help change the future for artists/contestants. I don’t want them to go through what I had to go through.”

Ferguson has called on the chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Dame Caroline Dinenage, to launch an inquiry into safeguarding and other practices at the channel.

Last aired in 2018, X Factor was officially cancelled in 2021.

\u200bRebecca Ferguson filming at her old school

Rebecca Ferguson filming at her old school for X Factor in 2010


Last year, former contestant Katie Waissel claimed she had been sexually assaulted by one of the X Factor team while in the US some time after she took part.

Another former contestant, Lucy Spraggan, has criticised X Factor for showing “absolutely zero consciousness of people's welfare at the time I was on that show.”

Spraggan added: “They have a lot of questions to answer about duty of care across the board, not just ITV but the people behind it.”

Chico Slimani, who took part in the 2005 series of the show, has lamented that ITV bosses were only interested in making ‘money’ from the hopefuls.

Slimani went on to secure a number one hit on the British charts in 2006 titled 'It's Chico Time'.

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