X Factor winners now – unrecognisable, Corrie stint and devastating diagnosis

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    The X-Factor winner James Arthur was born on this day in 1988 – and he's had a wild life since winning the ITV show.

    But do you know where other stars of the popular ITV show are now?

    Groups like Little Mix have gone to reach global chart topping fame since their time on the programme, with stars including Joe McElderry making names for themselves on the theatre stage too.

    But others have turned their back on fame, while some have stepped onto some of the UK's biggest soaps.

    READ MORE: Pop Idol's Sam and Mark unrecognisable after transformation into EastEnders icons

    Here, Daily Star takes a look at where some of the previous winners of The X Factor are now.

    Steve Brookstein

    Steve Brookstein became the first ever winner of The X Factor in 2004, releasing three albums including chart-topper Heart and Soul.

    From there he appeared in musicals such as Our House, as well as releasing albums such as Forgotten Man.

    He also released the book, Getting Over The X, which charted his journey on the reality TV programme and his life after.

    Although he kept a low profile since the height of his reality TV days, Steve made a return to his musical roots in 2022 after joining up with A-Kay to sing Soul and Motown classics.

    The singer looked completely unrecognisable on a tour poster, wearing dark-rimmed glasses and sporting a dusting of silver facial hair on chin.

    Fans went wild for the announcement, with on saying: "Too long," while a second commented: "Looks amazing, how do we get it please?"

    Away from the limelight, Steve has also been married to wife Eileen Hunter since 2006.

    However, Steve has had his fair share of controversies, including coming under fire for homophobic comments he made on Twitter after criticising Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas when he went public with his HIV diagnosis.

    He also criticised Ukrainian president Volodymur Zelenskyy in a vile anti-Semitic rant, with Twitter bosses subsequently suspending his account on the social media platform.

    Shayne Ward

    Shayne Ward rose to fame as the winner of The X Factor in 2005, before becoming a huge star on ITV soap Coronation Street.

    He played Aidan Connor from 2015-2018, and since then has moved back onto the stage, appearing in productions such as Rock of Ages and Band of Gold.

    He's not the only famous soap star in his family though.

    Since 2016, he has been dating Hollyoaks actress Sophie Austin and the couple have a daughter called Willow.

    In 2017 he announced that the couple had gotten engaged on Boxing Day, posting a photo of Sophie wearing her ring, with the caption "Mrs Ward to be."

    However, the pair postponed their wedding during the pandemic and are yet to tie the knot.

    Leona Lewis

    Leona Lewis is one of the biggest stars to have ever won The X Factor, after the singer appeared on the ITV reality series in 2006.

    After releasing songs including A Moment Like This, Bleeding Love and One More Sleep, she has sold more than 35m records as well as winning MOBO awards, an MTV Europe Music Award and two World Music Awards.

    Leona has also appeared in the theatre production Cats, as well as showcasing her acting talents in the film Walking On Sunshine.

    She is not the only famous star in her family though, as she tied the knot with professional dancer Dennis Jauch in 2019 in a stunning ceremony in Tuscany, Italy.

    They have since welcomed a daughter together called Carmel Allegra in 2022.

    The star has also opened up about her diagnosis with Hashimoto's thyroiditis and hypothyroidism, saying to Hull Live: "I was feeling very sick and had chronic fatigue and these really bad pains in my neck and throat.

    "I didn’t know what was going on. It was a pretty hard time, and after a bunch of tests, I found out I had an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease."

    She continued: "When I was first diagnosed, I was absolutely devastated; I felt very scared and alone until I began to research and understand how others were living with the disease.

    "When my symptoms were the most severe, I could hear my body telling me that I needed to slow down. I also started to feel tired during performances."

    Most recently, Leona has featured on the song Grow Old With Me alongside James Morrison and Diane Warren, as well as appearing as a judge on TV programme Queens of the Universe and BBC show I Can See Your Voice.

    Leon Jackson

    Leon Jackson won the fourth series of The X Factor, releasing the album Right Now featuring singles such as When You Believe, Don't Call This Love, Creative and Stargazing.

    As well as performing alongside Michael Bublé at numerous concerts across the UK in 2008, but the singer was later dropped by his label Sony BMG after his debut album only sold 150,000 copies.

    Speaking about being dropped by his label, he told The Daily Record: "It was a crushing moment especially when, to my eyes, I hadn't done anything wrong."

    However he added: "My number one song, When You Believe, was never me and I didn't feel comfortable with it in the first place. I was singing songs that weren't really me and doing things I had to do. I was not comfortable and it was not appealing to people my age."

    He didn't stop showcasing his musical talents however, co-writing Sick Love with The Voice UK winner Vince Kidd, and releasing songs including Never Left The Ground, The Other Side and Wounded By Love, alongside an acoustic tour in 2010.

    Since 2016, Leon has been living in Los Angeles as well as raising money for charitable causes in his hometown, including Glasgow Children's Hospital and The Children's Hospice Association Scotland.

    Alexandra Burke

    Alexander Burke hit chart-topping fame when she won The X Factor in 2008, releasing songs including Hallelujah and Bad Boys.

    She also landed global fame as she joined Beyonce on the European leg of her I Am…World Tour, as well as releasing songs such as Broken Heels and All Night Long.

    From there she has released albums and EPs such as Renegade, Heartbreak on Hold and The Truth Is.

    However, the singer has also turned her talents to acting, appearing in stage productions such as The Bodyguard, Sister Act, Chicago, Chess and most recently, Jack and the Beanstalk.

    Alexandra also returned to her TV roots after appearing as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017, finishing in joint second place alongside pro dancer Gorka Marquez.

    Away from the limelight, Alexandra has welcomed her first child with professional footballer Darren Randolph in 2022.

    The couple announced the birth in a sweet Instagram post, alongside a snap of her newborn's feet, saying: "Welcome to the world our little grape. We already love you more than words can say."

    Sam Bailey

    Sam Bailey won the tenth series of The X Factor in 2013, with the star going on to support music megastar Beyoncé on the UK leg of her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.

    However just two years after her reality TV win, Sam parted ways with Syco Music.

    That hasn't stopped Sam though, with the star releasing albums such as Sing My Heart Out and joining celebs such as Frank Bruno and Kellie Shirley to release a cover of Merry Christmas Everyone to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society and Action for Children.

    Sam has also had a successful theatre career too, appearing in musicals such as Chicago, alongside EastEnders icon John Partridge and Emmerdale actress Hayley Tamaddon.

    She also performed in Vampires Rock, Fat Friends and most recently Beauty and The Beast in 2022.

    Away from the limelight, Sam has been married to her husband Craig Pearson since 2003, with who she shares three children called Tommy, Brooke and Miley.

    Ben Haenow

    Ben Haenow won the eleventh series of The X Factor in 2014, after narrowly beating Strictly Come Dancing's Fleur East to the title.

    From there he released his self-titled debut album, as well as a duet with Pop Idol winner Kelly Clarkson called Second Hand Heart.

    Like other X Factor winners, Ben later parted ways with Syco Music.

    Speaking to My London, the singer admitted it was "really hard to deal with" being dropped by his label, saying: "It was then I lost my way a bit. I lost my confidence going out"

    However, he has continued to release music including 2018 album Alive and most recently, songs including Heart of Glass and If You're Lonely in 2020 – as well as continuing to gig around the UK.

    Ben also welcomed his first child with long-term partner Jessica Jones, sharing a sweet Instagram post of the ultrasound saying: "So me and my beautiful wife have been working on a new release for next year @j_amy_haenow and I made this new little beat together!"

    Louisa Johnson

    Louisa Johnson won The X Factor in 2015, releasing singles such as Forever Young and featuring on Clean Bandit's hit song Tears.

    From there, she has released singles including So Good and Best Behaviour, as well as collaborating on the single Here We Go Again with Sigma in 2018.

    She has continued to release music collaborations including Always Be There with Jonas Blue in 2020.

    She also took part in the charity single Bridge Over Troubled Water as part of Artists for Grenfell, raising money for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

    Louisa has also collaborated with clothing brands including USA Pro for a modelling campaign, as well as releasing the song Like I Love Me to promote the collaboration.

    However, the star has opened up about struggling with her fame after winning The X Factor, saying to The Sun that she suffered from depression.

    "I woke up and just didn’t want to be here any more," said Louisa.

    "I was so fed up, I was done. I wanted someone to shake me. The unhappiness was like an annoying gnat that wouldn’t go away — it kept nagging at me, bugging me."

    She later checked into rehab and was treated for trauma, depression and anxiety, adding: "As much as I’ve struggled, I know there’s a small part inside of me that’s a fighter. I won’t give up."

    Matt Terry

    Matt Terry was crowned winner of The X Factor in 2016, releasing his debut album Trouble in the following year.

    From there he collaborated with stars Enrique Iglesias and Sean Paul, before releasing songs such as Sucker For You and The Thing About Love.

    Matt also recalled that at the height of his fame, a fan drove alongside his car and began beeping, with the singer worried that the driver was "going to have a massive go at me."

    Instead, Matt explained to Liverpool Echo: "He gets out of his car and luckily his two little girls jump out the back of his car and he's like 'can we get a photo mate?' I was like 'I thought you were gonna wallop me'.

    He continued: "That was the craziest time, nothing like that has happened since, I mean I guess I've had a few but it's been years."

    In 2018, he was dropped by RCA records but has since followed in other winner's footsteps to appear on the stage in productions such as Madagascar: The Musical.

    In 2022 he also played Stacee Jaxx in the UK touring production of Rock Of Ages.

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