Rebecca Ferguson urges inquiry into reality TV’s terrifying behind-the-scenes treatment

Rebecca Ferguson, a former X Factor contestant, has called for an investigation into reality TV shows to protect future participants, claiming there are “terrifying” occurrences happening behind the scenes. The 36-year-old singer used Twitter to express her concerns and request an independent inquiry, interviewing herself and all previous X Factor staff from 2004 to the present day.

Ferguson, who finished second in the seventh series of the X Factor in 2010, has previously campaigned for the establishment of a regulatory body for the music industry to ensure artist welfare. She shared a screenshot of an email she sent to ITV and Ofcom in 2021, calling for an “urgent inquiry” into the treatment of contestants on reality shows. However, she claimed her concerns were dismissed.

In her email, Ferguson 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 also mentioned contestants being “forced into contracts without independent legal advice” and being made to “sign to a management company with no freedom of choice”. According to her, contestants were told that if they refused, they would be “kicked off the show”.

An Ofcom spokesperson stated that they had replied to Ferguson and met with her virtually in 2021, explaining their powers and broadcasting rules in detail. They confirmed that new rules introduced to protect participants in programmes were not applicable to shows broadcast before April 5, 2021.

ITV responded to Ferguson’s allegations, stating that they are “committed to having in place suitable processes to protect the mental health and welfare of programme participants”. They emphasised that their duty of care charter and “detailed guidance”, introduced in 2019, reflects contestant welfare as their “highest priority”.

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 led to the show’s cancellation.

Ferguson has released four albums since her time on X Factor 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.

World News

Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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