The X Factor was a British reality television music competition, created by Simon Cowell. Premiering on 4 September 2004, it was produced by Fremantle’s Thames and Cowell’s production company Syco Entertainment for ITV, as well as simulcast on Virgin Media One in Ireland. The programme ran for around 445 episodes across fifteen series, each one primarily broadcast late in the year, until its final episode in December 2018. All episodes were presented by Dermot O’Leary, with some exceptions: the first three series were hosted by Kate Thornton; while Caroline Flack and Olly Murs hosted the show for the twelfth series.
Each year of the competition saw contestants of all ages and backgrounds auditioning for a place, in hopes of proving that they had singing talent. Auditionees attempted to do so before a panel of judges, each selected for their background in the music industry – these have included Cowell, Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Dannii Minogue, Cheryl, Gary Barlow, Tulisa, Kelly Rowland, Nicole Scherzinger, Mel B, Rita Ora, and Robbie Williams.
Those acts who survived the auditions entered a bootcamp stage in which the judges each took charge of a category of contestants to mentor, determining who may move on to the live stages of the contest, with a public vote in the live rounds eliminating these contestants one by one. The winner of the live final received a recording contract with record label Syco Music and a cash payment, though the majority was allocated to marketing and recording costs