Scouse soulstress Rebecca Ferguson and rapping teenager Cher Lloyd are the two female finalists, up against Matt Cardle and One Direction in this weekend’s X Factor showdown. Stylist rewinds the previous six series and salutes the singing contest’s most memorable women
Series 1 (winner: Steve Brookstein)
Rowetta Satchell was the most memorable female in series one. The ex-Happy Mondays backing singer was a recovering alcoholic and victim of domestic violence, which gave her resurgence on the show a redemptive quality. But her erratic outbursts soon repelled public sympathy and she left in week 8.
Series 2 (winner: Shayne Ward)
Maria Lawson was the bookies’ favourite thanks to her diminutive appearance and modest manner. She remained so, until her shock departure after Louis Walsh controversially saved The Conway Sisters (four pulchritudinous sisters from Ireland who epitomised compliant femininity)
Series 3 (winner: Leona Lewis)
Lewis won the show with her diva-like performances but conducted herself with humility and restraint. When complimented by the judges, she smiled shyly and thanked them, but you’d never catch her going on about her “destiny” like Katie Waissel. She maintains a public image that is pleasant but vague.
Series 4 (winner: Leon Jackson)
Niki Evans was a reassuringly maternal figure whose appeal was tied up with her emotional “journey” and determination to win for her late father. She went out in the semis. Sarah Smith, the saccharine blond in brother/sister duo Same Difference, made it all the way to the final with her fixed cheerleader smile.
Series 5 (winner: Alexandra Burke)
Burke played a smart game, staying was pretty invisible during the show’s early weeks but slowly growing in stature as other females were ejected. These included Diana Vickers - nicknamed The Claw thanks to her hand mannerism when singing. But she later bagged a record deal and a starring role in the West End.
Series 6 (winner: Joe McElderry)
Essex mum Stacey Solomon has just enjoyed a renaissance in this year’s I’m A Celebrity… but the Dagenham-born single mum was initially a hit with X Factor viewers, coming third overall thanks to her sunny disposition, unaffected delights with the whole experience and lack of naked ambition.
Words: Julia Raeside
Image credit: Rex Features