The X Factor's 10 Most TOE-CURLING Auditions

The X Factor's 10 Most TOE-CURLING Auditions

The X Factor’s 10 Most TOE-CURLING Auditions: Best friend punch-ups, smashed-up stages, ‘scumbag’ slurs, booing crowds… a look at the unforgettable early stages of the ‘axed’ show

  • On Wednesday, it was reported that X Factor would end after 17 years amid fears from founder Simon Cowell that the show had ‘become slightly stale’ and would ‘turn into a joke’
  • Simon launched X Factor in 2004 and it last aired in 2018 and found some of the world’s biggest stars
  • The early stages of the show were as famous as the later live shows thanks to an eclectic array of hopefuls
  • Many auditions went down in TV history, with punch-ups and performances leaving audiences stunned 

The X Factor has produced some of the world’s biggest stars, who started their journeys with raw acapella performances in front of the discerning eyes of the panel of expert judges. 

Yet not all early auditions produced chart-toppers, as fans of the show will never forget some of the less successful hopefuls and their toe-curling performances.

From 2010’s Ablisa, the best friend double act whose dramatic attempt at singing ended in a punch, to Zoe, who destroyed the stage equipment in her rage towards bosses, and George, who branded Tulisa ‘scum’ – many of the show’s moments have gone down in TV history. 

After it was reported on Wednesday that the show is set to be taken off air following 17 years, we take a look at the most memorable – and cringeworthy – auditions. 



The X Factor’s 10 Most TOE-CURLING Auditions: Best friend punch-ups, smashed-up stages, ‘scumbag’ slurs, booing crowds… a look at the unforgettable early stages of the ‘axed’ show

1. ABLISA 

SERIES SEVEN- 2010

Best friends Abbey Johnstone and Lisa Parker’s audition ended in tears when the former punched the latter following a bad reaction to their rendition of Shane Ward’s That’s My Goal. 

The performance was branded ‘the worst audition in history’ by Simon Cowell leading to Lisa asking: ‘Who are you?’ to guest judge Natalie Imbruglia and giving Simon the middle finger. 

Best friends Abbey Johnstone and Lisa Parker’s audition ended in tears when the former punched the latter following a bad reaction to their rendition of Shane Ward’s That’s My Goal

Abbey ‘flipped out’ and punched Lisa after she grew embarrassed when she joked about her fancying Louis Walsh. Lisa said: ‘Abbey fancies you but you’re old enough to be my grandad’. 

Guest judge Natalie Imbruglia’s jaw dropped while Cheryl exclaimed in disbelief: ‘She punched her in the face!’ 

The pair then had to be separated by X Factor security and were booed off stage during their audition in Birmingham. Backstage, host Dermot O’Leary scolded Abbey, saying: ‘You cannot strike people’.  

Abbey later posed topless for a newspaper while holding a pair of boxing gloves.  

Speaking afterwards about the strain, Abbey said: ‘Simon Cowell said we had serious attitude problems and then Lisa told Louis Walsh I fancied him. She had just started singing, and I decided I didn’t want to sing. I ran off stage but the X Factor people physically forced me to go back on again, and I couldn’t take it any more.

‘I have anger issues and I couldn’t take any more of the audience booing us and calling me fat. I just flipped out, and now I think the whole thing’s being blown out of proportion. As soon as it happened I knew we shouldn’t be friends after, but ever since her friends, family, and other people in the street have all started having a go at me.’   

Shock: The performance was branded ‘the worst audition in history’ by Simon Cowell leading to Lisa asking: ‘Who are you?’ to guest judge Natalie Imbruglia and giving Simon the middle finger

2. GEORGE GERASIMOU 

SERIES EIGHT – 2011 

After first appearing on the show in group Triple Trouble in 2009, George returned as a solo act in 2011.

Shock: After first appearing on the show in group Triple Trouble in 2009, George returned as a solo act in 2011

Having caused ructions in his first appearance for having an attitude problem, George returned with equally explosive slurs and even swore at the dumbfounded judges.  

He opened his audition, saying: ‘I was really quick-tempered back then [but] not the sort of person I am’, before promising judges that he has now changed his ways’. 

When judge Gary Barlow stopped his audition mid performance, George was left seething and stepped off stage before being escorted back by security before Gary said: ‘You’ve matured like old curry’.

George said: ‘I respect your opinion. Now it’s time for my opinion’, before he took aim at Tulisa Contoslavos, stating she was ‘some scumbag trying to replace Cheryl’ and added: ‘Shut up, you silly b***h’. 

He then went backstage and pointed at a screen showing Tulisa and stated: ‘No dogs allowed! I didn’t know dogs were allowed on X Factor!’, before he was scolded by Dermot.  


George said: ‘I respect your opinion. Now it’s time for my opinion’, before he took aim at Tulisa Contoslavos, stating she was ‘some scumbag trying to replace Cheryl’ and added: ‘Shut up, you silly b***h’

3. RACHEL LESTER 

Ahead of her performance of Sugar Walls by Sheena Easton, Rachel confidently professed: ‘I’ve got The X Factor because I am a natural talent’

SERIES FOUR – 2007 

Ahead of her performance of Sugar Walls by Sheena Easton, Rachel confidently professed: ‘I’ve got The X Factor because I am a natural talent. At the end of the day, I deserve it. I’m just too goddamn good.’

Once she strutted into the room, then-judge Sharon Osbourne asked about her occupation, to which she responded: ‘Nothing, I’m lazy at the moment.’

Upon performing her song, she stated her performance was 10 out of 10 and she could sing better than Madonna. 

Simon then blasted the rendition, saying: ‘Everything I wouldn’t want, lazy, deluded, very little talent’. 

Rachel’s audition still circulates social media, with her distinctive facial expressions during the performance making her popular in memes and often featured on Twitter. 

Oh! Once she strutted into the room, then-judge Sharon Osbourne asked about her occupation, to which she responded: ‘Nothing, I’m lazy at the moment’

4. CHLOE MAFIA

SERIES SEVEN – 2010 

Prepared: Chloe, real name Chloe Heald, stunned with her fake tanned, heavily made-up, scantily-clad appearance on the show as during her first audition, Louis slated her for being ‘totally unprepared’

Chloe, real name Chloe Heald, stunned with her fake tanned, heavily made-up, scantily-clad appearance on the show as during her first audition, Louis slated her for being ‘totally unprepared’.

She first sang Summertime, then Shakira’s Underneath Your Clothes, before coming out with a string of excuses for her below-par performance.

After describing herself as a ‘full-time yummy mummy’, she insisted: ‘There’s no-one out there like me. I act like a star, sing like a star, dance like a star, dress like a star, I’m the recipe for the star.’

Louis said no, but Simon said: ‘I’ve heard more rubbish from you in the last five minutes than I’ve ever heard – yet still I think there’s something there.’ Both he and Nicole Scherzinger said yes and she was through.

Her time on the show was cut short however as her drug use and former sex work was exposed. She went on to appear on Celebrity Big Brother and has now made millions from her cam girl business.   


Prepared: Chloe, real name Chloe Heald, stunned with her fake tanned, heavily made-up, scantily-clad appearance on the show as during her first audition, Louis slated her for being ‘totally unprepared’

Later: Her time on the show was cut short however as her drug use and former sex work was exposed

 5. ANT AND SEB

SERIES FIVE – 2008

Brothers Ant and Seb made X Factor history with their rendition of Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl. 

Seb compared their singing styles to P. Diddy and Usher, with a touch of Rick Astley however when they sung, their performance was slammed by the dumbfounded judges. 

Simon said: ”Where do I start? I mean, it’s more like Ant and Deaf’, however Seb protested: ‘We know we’re good enough, Simon. No disrespect, but we feel we’re pretty good.’

Once they attempted to start another song, security were soon summoned. 

Brothers Ant and Seb made X Factor history with their rendition of Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl

6. DEBBIE STEVENS 

Oh! Due to her confidence, the aspiring star was shocked when Sharon said: ‘Your voice is ok, you got no star quality’

SERIES THREE – 2006

Debbie exuded confidence when she arrived at her audition and branded herself ‘amazing’ before kicking off her rendition of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s When You Believe. 

Due to her confidence, the aspiring star was shocked when Sharon said: ‘Your voice is ok, you got no star quality about you. There’s no charisma’, before Simon agreed and said her she was ‘a bit pub singerish’ and ‘deluded’. 

Once Louis said: ‘Deborah, the reality is you’re not very good’, she then stated: ‘I really want to slap you now’ before launching into an angry rant about being told she was a good singer since the age of six. 

As she headed out of the audition room, she grabbed a ciup of water that she curled at Louis however he was prepared and threw a cup at her first – Simon was forced to intervene.  

Debbie exuded confidence when she arrived at her audition and branded herself ‘amazing’ before kicking off her rendition of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s When You Believe but then threw water on Louis

7. ZOE ALEXANDER

 SERIES NINE – 2012

Zoe Alexander, from Caerphilly, South Wales, left a female senior producer in shock after punching her just minutes after being rejected by X Factor judges Gary, Nicole, Tulisa and Louis. Zoe, who performed as a professional tribute act to fiery pop star Pink, strode out on stage to perform her version of Pink’s hit, So What.

Zoe Alexander, from Caerphilly, South Wales, left a female senior producer in shock after punching her just minutes after being rejected by X Factor judges Gary, Nicole, Tulisa and Louis

However, she failed to entertain the judges at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena and was given another opportunity to sing, performing Emile Sande song, Next To Me. But when that bid failed, she threw her microphone down and stormed off stage as she swore at the judges: ‘You told me what to sing. You are a bunch of *****.’

Security staff at the auditions were then brought in to calm the situation. The producer allegedly assaulted by the contestant then called police. 

She reported the assault and will have to decide whether to press charges, a show source said. An X Factor source said: ‘The judges gave Zoe four no’s and said her vocals were average…

‘Nicole said she should work on her vocals and come back. Zoe left the stage, throwing down her microphone and hurling it towards the judges. Then she walked back on with her dad. Her dad was ranting at the judges while Zoe sobbed. She then swore and stormed off, pushing Dermot O’Leary’s camera out of the way and kicking scenery.’

Zoe later spoke about her regret over appearing on the show and her anger at producers.  

Hitting back: However, she failed to entertain the judges at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena and was given another opportunity to sing, performing Emile Sande song, Next To Me. But when that bid failed, she threw her microphone down and stormed off stage as she swore at the judges: ‘You told me what to sing. You are a bunch of *****’

8. MICHAEL LEWIS

SERIES SEVEN AND EIGHT – 2010/2011 

Michael Jackson superfan Michael Lewis first appeared on the show dressed as his idol in 2010, however the performance received a tepid response from judges. 

He then returned the following year to perform Geri Halliwell’s Look At Me, complete with a dance and stated: ”I am who I am now. No gimmick, no mask. Just me’. 

When the audience cheered, Michael said: ‘There’s so much positivity in this room, it’s unreal. Thank you!’ yet Gary responded, ‘I’ve got a feeling that the audience weren’t clapping because they liked your talent.’

Michael then argued with the judges during their critique, prompting Gary to say: ‘Just see if you can keep your mouth shut for one minute.’

Michael Jackson superfan Michael Lewis first appeared on the show dressed as his idol in 2010, however the performance received a tepid response from judges

9. SOPHIE STOKLE

 SERIES NINE – 2012

When Nicole Scherzinger attended the Newcastle auditions in 2012, she was on a cruel warpath – ending the day saying: ‘I came from Los Angeles for this… I expected more from Newcastle. TFZ, it’s a Talent-Free Zone.’ 

She said her biggest disappointment of the night came from teenager Sophie Stokle.

Sophie promised big things and the relief could be seen on the judges’ faces when she walked on stage with her pop star-style get-up and seemed convinced, along with her mother, that she was set to be the next big thing ready to wow the panel. But Nicole, along with Gary, Tulisa and Louis , were left grimacing.

After her version of Jennifer Hudson’s Love You I Do she was put in her place. Gary said: ‘I want to be encouraging but it was vocally really, really bad.’ Nicole swiped: ‘You have power and projection, unfortunately we were missing the pitch and the tone… You need all of those things.’

And as Sophie walked off stage to a gobsmacked mum, Tulisa commented: ‘Where are the parents? If that was my child I’d tell her: ‘Stop it!”

Shock: Nicole Sherzinger said her biggest disappointment in Newcastle 2012 came from teenager Sophie Stokle

10. OCTAVIO AND BRADLEY 

SERIES  13 – 2016

Strutting into the audition room first, Ottavio – who explained he gets his fashion inspiration from Kinder Egg toys – was full of bravado as he compared himself to Cher and Prince and flirted with the ‘fabulous’ Sharon.

But his confidence was short-lived after Louis suggested he might be better off performing in a group – leading to a shocking outburst from the colourful character. 

As the judges watched on wide-eyed, Ottavio collapsed in tears as he revealed he once had a singing partner – but the pair fell out after his friend served him chicken that was ‘pink’ in the middle.

Whilst Sharon sympathised that he ‘could’ve got salmonella,’ the judges sprung into action as they convinced the aspiring singer he should reconcile with his old friend.

After tears from both Ottavio and his former bandmate Bradley Hunt – who had been fetched by Dermot O’Leary, the pair were soon able to perform together – much to Sharon, Louis and Nicole’s delight.

All the fighting seemed to have rubbed off on the judges, however, as when Louis explained he wasn’t aware of the duo’s chosen song, Buttons by the Pussycat Dolls, Nicole fired back: ‘You don’t know what number ones are then!’

Strutting into the audition room first, Ottavio – who explained he gets his fashion inspiration from Kinder Egg toys – was full of bravado as he compared himself to Cher and Prince and flirted with the ‘fabulous’ Sharon

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