Rebecca Ferguson, a former runner-up on The X Factor, has criticized ITV after the UK broadcaster failed to investigate her “traumatic” experience on the Simon Cowell entertainment show.
In a series of tweets, the singer published screenshots that appeared to be of an email she sent to ITV CEO Carolyn McCall in 2021 detailing “terrible foul play” on The X Factor in 2021.
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Ferguson has previously raised concerns about her experience on the series, but revisited her claims amid a deluge of allegations about a “toxic” culture on ITV daytime show This Morning.
Ferguson said she was subjected to an “abuse of power” in being required to sign a management and recording contract to compete on the show at the age of 23.
She appeared on The X Factor season that gave rise to One Direction. At the time, the show was at the height of its powers and was watched by millions of viewers in the UK.
Ferguson said ITV COO Sarah Clarke responded to her allegations and apologized for her experience. ITV and Ofcom declined to investigate further, however.
ITV said: “In our correspondence with Rebecca we stressed that the welfare of participants is of the highest priority at ITV as reflected in our Duty of Care Charter and the detailed guidance, introduced in 2019, we now have available for all producers, to ensure that the welfare of participants is adequately safeguarded on all our programmes. ITV responded to Rebecca with information provided to us by the producers, detailing their arrangements regarding welfare, aftercare, legal advice, and management, at the time of her participation.”
The company added: “ITV is committed to having in place suitable processes to protect the mental health and welfare of programme participants. We have continued to evolve and strengthen our approach, and we expect all producers of commissioned programmes to have in place appropriate procedures to look after the mental health of programme participants as well as their physical safety.
“Those processes and procedures will differ from programme to programme, to ensure that the welfare of all participants in ITV programmes is appropriately safeguarded. Whilst the practical detailed processes required to manage participant welfare in each programme must sit with producers themselves, ITV as a broadcaster and commissioner of content provides guidance on what we consider to be best practice: in the selection of participants before filming, in supporting them during filming, and in continued support up to and after the broadcast of the programme.”
The X Factor was produced by Fremantle and Syco. Fremantle said: “Duty of care is of the utmost importance to us, and we always take contributor welfare extremely seriously. During the 2010 series of The X Factor, there were robust measures in place to ensure everyone involved in the making of the programme was supported throughout their experience and beyond including a dedicated welfare team made up of psychologists, doctors, welfare producers and independent legal and management advisors with no time limit on aftercare once the show had aired. These measures were under constant review, and we have always been proactive in adapting and updating them for future series to reflect the requirements of the show.”
Ferguson has released four Top 10 albums in the UK and famously agreed to sing at Donald Trump’s inauguration on the condition she perform “Strange Fruit,” which describes the lynching of Black Americans. She did not end up performing at the ceremony in 2017.
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