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Rebecca Ferguson, a former X Factor contestant, calls for investigation into reality TV | Ents & Arts News

Former X Factor star Rebecca Ferguson has called for an investigation into reality TV shows, to “protect future contestants”, claiming there are “terrifying” things going on behind the scenes.

The 36-year-old posted a series of tweets on Twitter, telling her 645,000 followers: “I’m bound by multiple NDAs but I cannot continue to not live in my full truth, being silent is worse. I’ve lived through hell for years.”

She went on to call on Dame Caroline Dinenage, the chair of parliament’s culture, media and sport committee, to ask for an independent inquiry, interviewing herself, and all previous X Factor staff between 2004 and the present day, adding “what you’ll uncover is beyond terrifying!”

In 2010, the Liverpool-born singer came second on the seventh series of the show, which was won by Matt Cardle.

Ferguson has previously campaigned for the introduction of a regulatory body for the music industry, in a bid to ensure artist welfare.

She went on to share a screenshot of an email which she said she sent to ITV and Ofcom in 2021 calling for an “urgent inquiry” into the treatment of contestants on reality shows, but said she had been “fobbed off”.

Ferguson wrote: “I was refused by ITV and OFCOM, no investigation was taken place and my concerns appeared to be fobbed off.

“I am open to communication should they now wish to follow up with my private complaint now that I have made my complaint public.”

In the email, she listed reasons for her complaint including contestants being “mentally manipulated and abused whilst having mental health problems” and being “reduced to tears due to pressure/bullying”.

She said contestants were also “forced into contracts without independent legal advice” and made to “sign to a management company with no freedom of choice”. She said contestants were told if they refused, they would be “kicked off the show”.

She said her reason for making the “formal complaint” to OFCOM in 2021 was “to ensure the future safety of contestants and ensure adequate safeguarding measures are put in place to protect future contestants”.

An Ofcom spokesperson said that they did reply to Ferguson and met with her virtually in 2021.

They said in a statement: “We listened carefully to the extent of her concerns about the treatment of contestants during her time on The X Factor in 2010.

“During these exchanges, we explained our powers and how our broadcasting rules apply in detail. We confirmed that new rules introduced to protect participants in programmes were not applicable to programmes broadcast before April 5, 2021.

“We also clarified that our statutory remit, as set by parliament, means that our fairness rules do not extend to contractual matters or conditions imposed by broadcasters on participants, and only to content as broadcast.

“We suggested to Ms Ferguson possible routes to escalate her complaints to ITV and the appropriate authorities.”

ITV responded to Ferguson’s claims, saying they were “committed to having in place suitable processes to protect the mental health and welfare of programme participants”.

Their statement went on: “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.”

ITV said that in its correspondence with Ferguson it had stressed contestant welfare was of the “highest priority”, as reflected in their duty of care charter and “detailed guidance” which was introduced in 2019.

They said: “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 broadcaster has faced criticism in recent years following the deaths of former Love Island contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis in 2018 and 2019, and the death of a guest on The Jeremy Kyle Show in 2019, which resulted in the show being axed.

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After rising to fame on X Factor, Ferguson has gone on to release four albums and became a panellist on ITV’s Loose Women.

In 2021 she met with former culture secretary Oliver Dowden to discuss discrimination in the music industry.

Last month, ITV announced it had instructed a barrister to carry out an external review of the facts after Phillip Schofield’s departure from popular breakfast show This Morning, following an affair with a younger employee.

ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall will be questioned about the Schofield scandal by the DCMS committee in parliament on Wednesday.

Chair of the committee, Dame Caroline Dinenage, told Sky News the meeting will not be a “witch hunt” against the former presenter, but is intended to ask wider questions about workplace culture and practices within both ITV and other public service broadcasters.

Darius Campbell Danesh: Former Pop Idol contestant and theatre star found dead aged 41 | Ents & Arts News

Former Pop Idol contestant and theatre star Darius Campbell Danesh has died at the age of 41, his family has announced.

The singer was found dead in his US apartment in Rochester, Minnesota, on 11 August – but his cause of death is not yet known.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh,” a statement issued by his family read.

The singer pictured on Popstars. Pic: ITV/Shutterstock
The singer pictured on Popstars. Image: ITV/Shutterstock

“Darius was found unresponsive in bed in his apartment room.

“The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances. The cause of his sudden death is unknown at this stage, while medical examinations continue.

“We ask that you kindly respect our wishes for privacy at this time whilst we come to terms with the tragic loss of our son and brother.”

'Pop Idol' - Darius Danesh in 2002. Pic: Fremantle Media/Shutterstock
Darius Campbell Danesh on Pop Idol in 2002. Pic: Fremantle Media/Shutterstock

Born in Glasgow to a Scottish mother and Iranian father, Campbell Danesh was the eldest of three boys and went to Bearsden Primary School before studying English literature and philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.

He first rose to prominence on the ITV show Popstars in 2001, where he became known for his audition performance of Britney’s Baby One More Time.

He later came third on the first series of Pop Idol, which was won by Will Young, with some of his memorable performances including renditions of Tom Jones’s hit It’s Not Unusual and Atomic Kitten’s Whole Again.

His debut single, Colourblind, was released in July 2002 and went straight to number one.

The Scottish singer-songwriter later had a successful theatre career, appearing in the West End shows such as Chicago, in which he played Billy Flynn, Guys And Dolls, Gone With The Wind and Funny Girl.

Campbell Danesh starred opposite Ugly Betty star America Ferrera in the musical set in prohibition-era Chicago.

Speaking about his role as Flynn, the actor had previously said he based his portrayal of the character on his old mentor and Pop Idol judge, Simon Cowell.

Darius Campbell and Sheridan Smith in the musical Funny Girl in 2015. Pic: Dan Wooller/Shutterstock
Darius Campbell Danesh and Sheridan Smith in the musical Funny Girl in 2015. Pic: Dan Wooller/Shutterstock

“He’s the consummate businessman and a wonderful guy and there’s a lot of Simon Cowell in Billy Flynn in terms of the way he approaches things and I recognise that in terms of the character,” he said.

He credited Mr Cowell with persuading him to take on the role in the first place, saying he was “incredibly grateful” for his the opportunities he had been given and “to be able to call Simon Cowell a friend”.

After Pop Idol, he won the first series of ITV’s Popstar To Operastar contest in 2010, beating Bernie Nolan of the Nolan Sisters in a close final.

A few months after his win, which featured Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and Mexican-born tenor Rolando Villazon as judges, he landed his first major opera role in the production of Carmen at London’s O2 Arena, playing the principal role of toreador Escamillo.

Darius Campbell Danesh
Pic: James Gourley/Shutterstock

Read more: Coronation Street star and comedian Duggie Brown dies aged 82

In the same year, Campbell Danesh spoke to Hello! magazine about a car crash in which he broke his neck.

He had been a passenger in a Porsche when it crashed into a wall at 70mph in Spain after skidding on oil.

In 2011 in Santa Barbara, California, he married Canadian actress Natasha Henstridge, known for her role in the sci-fi film Species.

However, the couple were divorced a few years later.

‘A true gent with a kind soul and a mischievous twinkle in his eye’

News of his death prompted tributes from figures in music and television, with fellow pop star Michelle Heaton saying her thoughts were with his family.

The Liberty X member, who also competed on Popstars, tweeted: “So sad… thoughts with Darius family right now, always our Britney.”

English-born actor Matthew Marsden described the news as “truly heartbreaking”.

He added: “I first met Darius when he auditioned for the Big Breakfast weather many years ago. He was a terrific human being. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

TV and radio presenter Nicki Chapman, who starred as a judge on Popstars while Campbell Danesh was a contestant, described him as a true gent with a kind soul and a mischievous twinkle in his eye”.

“There will only ever be one Darius Campbell Danesh,” she added.

“From that eventful first audition on Popstars to him kindly inviting me to see him perform on the West End stage. Thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

After both of his parents were diagnosed with cancer and recovered, Campbell Danesh became a supporter of several charities, including Cancer Research UK.