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It’s a singing show featuring celebrities who are pointedly not known for their singing! What could go wrong?
It’s a singing show featuring celebrities who are pointedly not known for their singing! What could go wrong?

Pop CultureJanuary 17, 2020

Who the hell are the celebs on The X-Factor UK: Celebrity?

It’s a singing show featuring celebrities who are pointedly not known for their singing! What could go wrong?
It’s a singing show featuring celebrities who are pointedly not known for their singing! What could go wrong?

Tara Ward breaks down the full line-up for The X-Factor UK: Celebrity and we promise you’ll recognise at least a few of them.

What makes everything better in this rancid world of ours? Not trees, not cooler temperatures, not an unexpected Briscoes ‘Monday Madness Sale’. It’s celebrities. Celebrities make the world go round, and nobody knows that better than reality TV guru Simon Cowell.  

When The X-Factor recently collapsed due to low ratings, Simon Cowell rolled his show into the recovery position, pressed his nonplussed mouth against it, and breathed new life into the franchise. Coughed up from television’s sinewy lungs came a new reality concept, much like The X-Factor, but with celebrities. That’s why it’s called The X-Factor: Celebrity, and it’s finally arrived on our screens in New Zealand. 

That’s right, The X Factor is now a singing competition for people who are already famous. Fifteen celebs, none of whom are known for their singing, fly to Los Angeles to make their stage debut in Simon Cowell’s garden, where they’ll sing their hearts out for the UK voting public. Given their recent track record, I have strong doubts about trusting the UK voting public, but like Simon Cowell staring into a closet of crisp white shirts, this is what we have to work with. 

Who will have the voice of an angel, and who will sound like a strangled cat? “It could be carnage,” says judge and mentor Louis Walsh, and we can only hope. Louis is joined on the judging panel by Nicole Scherzinger and Lord Cowell himself, and together they’ll coolly appraise the efforts of this eclectic bunch of sports stars, reality stars, actors, dancers, and Martin “I interviewed Princess Diana” Bashir. What? It’s fine.

Look, I can’t see how this can go wrong. A high stakes prize of a recording contract? Check. Celebrities most of us have never heard of? You bet. The Vixen from The Chase, tiptoeing through Simon Cowell’s tulips? Take me, I’m yours. Let’s dive straight into Simon Cowell’s garden of celebrity stars and see who’s about to sing their way into our hearts, minds and recurring nightmares.  

Over 31s

Martin Bashir

He interviewed both Princess Diana and Michael Jackson, he’s travelled with the Pope and works as Religion Editor for the BBC, so what makes this respected broadcast journalist want to stand up and sing jazzy love songs on Simon Cowell’s front lawn? Turns out Martin Bashir is “obsessed with reggae” and loves to sing ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit it’ in the car. Stand down Patrick Gower, this is the fucking news.   

Jenny Ryan, aka The Vixen from The Chase

Oh, my sweet cash builder. This is a glorious crossover to rival the time The Governess went on Tipping Point.

Ricki Lake

No day off school was complete in the ‘90s without a two o’clock viewing of The Ricki Lake Show. It was the best show that ever screened on TV2, even better than Paradise Beach and the infomercial where Suzanne Paul uses a vacuum to pick up a truck. When her show disappeared into the TV sunset, the enigmatic Ricki went on to win a Daytime Emmy, write books and make documentaries, and even appeared in US episodes of The Masked Singer. Is there nothing she can’t do? Go Ricki, indeed. 

Victora Ekanoye

Victoria played Mary’s daughter-in-law on Coronation Street, and if we don’t see Mary’s campervan doing donuts in Simon Cowell’s manicured gardens then it will be a sorry day indeed.  

Under 31s

Megan McKenna

Megan appeared on nearly every reality show ever made, including Britain’s Got Talent, TOWIE, The X Factor, Ex on the Beach, Celebrity Big Brother, Celebs on the Farm, Celebs go Dating, and her very own There’s Something About Megan. It’s a lot, and yet, it’s probably not enough.

Hayley Hasselhoff

Actor, model, fruit of The Hoff’s loins. 

Olivia Olson

Best known for playing Joanna, the kid who belts out ‘All I Want for Christmas’ in Love Actually while Hugh Grant heavy breathes on Tiffany from Eastenders backstage. Good times.  

Kevin McHale

It’s Artie from Glee, everyone.

Jonny Labey

Starred in Eastenders, fell in love with a Mitchell. Never ends well.


The Islanders: Samira Mighty, Zara McDermott, Wes Nelson and Eyal Booker

Fill up your water bottles, put on your best g-string bikini and douse yourself in (X)Factor 50, because what could be more trobbin’ than a Love Island supergroup featuring Zara, Samira, Eyal, and Wes? It is what it is.

Cole & Edwards: Brendan Cole and Jeremy Edwards

It’s only Brendan bloody Cole, Kiwi builder-turned-Dancing with the Stars NZ judge and Strictly Come Dancing professional, teaming up with his mate, Holby City actor Jeremy Edwards. A New Zealander at Simon Cowell’s house! The dreams of a nation rest on his shoulders.

Max & Harvey: Max and Harvey (obviously)

Not only do these 16 year old twins have one million followers on Instagram, they’ve also made a documentary, written a book, and hosted a kids TV series. Please join me in feeling old and lazy.

Try Star: Ben Foden, Thom Evans, Levi Davis

Ben Foden, Thom Evans and Levi Davis are rugby players who once scored a try, and now they’re going to try to sing. We were all born to try, just ask Delta Goodrem.  

V5: Alondra Martinez, Natalie Valerin, Wendii Sarmiento, Sofia Oliveira, Laura Buitrago

I don’t understand how computers work these days but these five young people do something on the ‘interweb’ that gives them millions of ‘followers’ and zillions of ‘views’. Sure, but can they click their fingers and sway dreamily in time with the beat? That’s the influencing I need.

The X-Factor: Celebrity airs tonight at 8:30pm on TVNZ2.

Keep going!