X Factor winners: full list of winners from Simon Cowell’s UK talent show - from Little Mix to Scot Leon Jackson

The iconic singing competition was recently cancelled after 17 years - here’s all the success stories from years gone by

Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 3:59 pm

There are no plans for another series of Simon Cowell’s iconic talent show, ITV recently confirmed.

The popular singing contest, which made celebrities out of ordinary people, was first aired in 2004 and went on to run for 15 series.

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Some of the X Factor's previous winners have gone on to become internationally famous (Getty Images)

Fans of the show will fondly remember the creation of international groups One Direction and Little Mix, and the journeys of solo stars like Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke.

Of course, the X Factor was also renowned for its brutal auditions, when original judges Mr Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh had no problem in savagely turning a plethora of singing hopefuls away.

But they had an important job to do and there could only ever be one vocalist who was crowned winner of the talent contest.

So, who won the X Factor throughout the years?

Here’s the full list.

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Full list of X Factor winners

2004 - Steve Brookstein

The first ever winner of the ITV talent show, Steve Brookestein triumphed after beating opera group G4 and young vocalist Tabby Callaghan.

Both his single and album went to number one, but a year later he was dropped from his record label Sony BMG and he subsequently moved into theatre.

He later became a staunch critic of Simon Cowell and the show that made him famous.

The singer even penned a book titled Getting Over The X which divulged his journey from winning the show up until the time he wrote his account.

2005 - Shayne Ward

Shayne Ward was crowned winner in 2005 after beating Andy Abraham.

He went on to bag his first Christmas number one with That’s My Goal, which stayed at the top spot for four weeks.

Mr Ward has since released four albums, with the first two achieving a place in the top 10 albums chart.

He then moved into theatre and acting, and in 2015 he joined the cast of Coronation Street to play the role of Aidan Connor.

The singer-turned-actor ended up staying in the cast until early 2018 - although he’s since said that he does intend to return to making music.

2006 - Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis’ iconic winner’s single, A Moment Like This, went platinum after its release and stayed at number one for four weeks.

She fought off Ray Quinn to the top spot on the show, and shortly became an internationally recognised name when she secured a £5million contract with J Records in America.

She has since released five albums, and her debut one sold a whopping nine million copies. Her hits include Bleeding Love, Better In Time and Run.

Ms Lewis has also bagged herself a VMA and two MOBO awards.

She’s also no stranger to the world of theatre, joining the Broadway cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats in 2016.

2007 - Leon Jackson

The Scottish X Factor star’s winning single, When You Believe, became the fastest selling single of 2007.

He beat Rhydian Roberts to the win in a shocking twist.

But over a year later, the West Lothian singer was dropped by Sony BMG after one of his albums flopped.

Mr Jackson continues to pen music, travelling to and from LA working as a songwriter.

2008 - Alexandra Burke

Both Alexandra Burke and her final rivals JLS have enjoyed incredible success since leaving the X Factor - but it was ultimately Ms Burke who stormed to victory.

Her iconic singles include Hallelujah, Bad Boys, All Night Long and Broken Heels and she released a string of successful albums.

In 2009, the singer, who duetted with Beyonce during the X Factor final, went on to sign a six-figure fashion deal with designer Dolce & Gabbana.

Ms Burke also managed to crack America, before returning to the UK to take on the lead role in West End show The Bodyguard in 2014 until it closed on stage.

She then played Roxie Hart in Chicago, and she was recently confirmed as the narrator in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

2009 - Joe McElderry

Despite winning the show, beating fellow finalists Olly Murs and Stacey Solomon, 18-year-old Joe McElderry failed to get a Christmas number one like his predecessors.

It was all down to Rage Against The Machine’s successful social media campaign to get their single to the top spot.

Even though he released a string of singles and an album, Mr McElderry was dropped from Mr Cowell’s label SyCo in 2011.

He then signed up as a contestant on ITV’s Popstar to Operastar, which he ended up winning.

The singer went on to act in theatre productions, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

2010 - Matt Cardle

In one of the most shocking moments of X Factor, Matt Cardle beat boyband One Direction to the top spot in 2010.

Shortly after his win, he was nominated for a BRIT award for his single When We Collide.

But One Direction’s popularity continued to skyrocket and they quickly became the most famous contestants from that series of the talent show.

Mr Cardle still released four studio albums and also took a lead role in the musical Memphis in the West End in 2015.

2011 - Little Mix

Arguably one of the X Factor’s biggest success stories, Little Mix are now an internationally-famous girl band.

The four girls were put together on the show during the audition process and went on to be the first band to win the competition, beating Marcus Collins.

They’ve released six studio albums to date which have all peaked inside the top 10, with hit singles including Salute, Black Magic and Shout Out To My Ex.

In shock news for fans, band member Jesy Nelson left the group in December 2020, citing mental health reasons.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall are still part of the group.

2012 - James Arthur

Beating Jahmene Douglas to the top spot in 2012, James Arthur was crowned X Factor winner.

He went on to be the fastest-selling winner of the show to that date with his debut Impossible, while his next single You’re Nobody ‘til Somebody Loves You reached number two in the UK charts.

After becoming embroiled in various controversies, including when he used homophobic language in a song in 2013, Mr Arthur was dropped from SyCo.

But just two years after leaving, the singer re-joined the label and went on to release a number of hit singles.

2013 - Sam Bailey

Sam Bailey fought off competition from Sam Callahan, Luke Friend and Tamera Foster to take the top spot in that year’s final.

She then made the Christmas number one spot with her song Skyscraper.

Despite her debut album also reaching the top of the charts in the UK, Ms Bailey was axed by Mr Cowell’s label and had to self-fund her second album.

She’s another X Factor winner who has gone on to star on stage, landing roles in Chicago and Fat Friends: The Musical.

2014 - Ben Haenow

Ben Haenow won against Fleur East in a tense 2014 final.

He secured a Christmas number one with Something I Need and also duetted with Kelly Clarkson on song Second Hand Heart.

The singer ended up leaving SyCo in 2016 and has worked independently on music since.

2015 - Louisa Johnson

Bagging the top spot in 2015 was Louisa Johnson, who beat duo Reggie N Bollie in the show’s final.

She was only 17 when she secured the crown.

After releasing her winner’s single Forever Young, Ms Johnson featured on Clean Bandit’s single, Tears.

She’s also joined up with fellow X Factor contestant Olly Murs in the past to release song Unpredictable.

The singer only parted ways with SyCo in summer 2018, but has continued to release singles despite the split.

2016 - Matt Terry

Matt Terry was 2016’s winner after beating Saara Aalto and 5 After Midnight to the top spot.

But in shock news, he was the first X Factor winner not to land a contract with SyCo.

Instead, he was signed to Sony label RCA.

However, his solo material failed to take off and he subsequently left the record label.

2017 - Rak-Su

This four-piece, from Watford, became the second ever band to win the X Factor.

They were also the first to release a duet as their winner’s single, titled Dimelo and featuring Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy.

Rak-Su beat Grace Davies and French-singer Kevin Davy White to the top spot.

The successful R&B group went on to support Little Mix on the band’s Summer Hits Tour.

They are still together and continue to release music.

2018 - Dalton Harris

The last winner of the X Factor was Dalton Harris, after the Jamaican singer beat fellow finalists Scarlett Lee and Antony Russell.

His winner’s single Power of Love was produced with fellow X Factor winner James Arthur and reached number four in the charts.

He’s still releasing music, dropping his latest single Cry at the end of 2019.