The X Factor is an ITV musical reality series which has been an annual staple of the broadcaster’s autumn/winter programming since 2004.
It usually runs from August or September until December.
Created by Simon Cowell, each series consists of stages through which contestants must progress.
These rounds include auditions, a ‘bootcamp’ round in which numbers are chopped down further, visits to judges’ houses where the celebrity mentors decide on their teams and several weeks of live shows – including semi-finals and the final – where acts are voted off.
Each judge mentors three or four acts in categories which have altered over the years. The current categories are Boys (males aged 14-24), Girls (females aged 14-24), Groups and Overs (anyone over 25).
Judges have included Cowell, Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Dannii Minogue, Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland, Tulisa, Nicole Scherzinger, Mel B, Rita Ora, Nick Grimshaw, Brian Friedman and Cheryl.
Robbie Williams, Ayda Field and One Direction’s Louise Tomlinson will join Simon Cowell as judges for the 2018 series.
There have been 14 winners to date, including Steve Brookstein, Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke, Matt Cardle, Little Mix, James Arthur and Rak-Su.
One Direction, JLS, Olly Murs, Cher Lloyd, Diana Vickers and Ella Henderson are among the performers who didn’t win but have managed to have number one successes in the charts anyway.
An ITV2 spin-off series featuring interviews and studio skits with judges and contestants called The Xtra Factor aired after the main show until it was axed in January 2017.
A worldwide TV franchise, The X Factor also airs in Australia, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Japan and Norway among many other countries.
Simon Cowell, Cheryl, Nicole Scherzinger, Dannii Minogue, Kelly Rowland and Mel B have all been performed as series judges in two different countries.