X Factor’s darkest secrets – ITV show’s fashion director claims ‘dark misogyny’ on set

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Grace Woodward, 46, worked on the ITV show back in 2010 – considered one of its golden years as it garnered 14million viewers – but claims that ‘very woman was expendable’ on the set

The X Factor’s former fashion director has spoken out against the culture on set of the show, claiming that “every woman was expendable”.

Grace Woodward, 46, worked on the ITV show back in 2010 – considered one of its golden years as it garnered 14million viewers and featured the likes of One Direction, Matt Cardle and Rebecca Ferguson.

But Grace has alleged that there was a “dark misogyny” present on the set of the show at its peak.

Her comments come after a number of former contestants have said that they were not provided with enough care while they appeared on the show.

Grace told Silver Screen Beat : “Every woman on that show was expendable, and that was implicit in everything.

“I felt that everyone who took part was exploited for financial gain. But what I saw over and over again was the women having a hard time, fighting for their places, while the men did what they wanted.”

She suggested that One Direction were “very much seen as untouchable” but that the female contestants were not and she “watched them struggle.

Grace has claimed that Liam Payne, who was 17 at the time, had asked her to sit on his lap and that that behaviour was “part of the culture on the show” and that he likely would have considered it normal.

The stylist went on to say that the show was “like a circus”, describing it as “mayhem” and explaining that the contestants were “under huge pressure”.

She suggested that Cher appeared “very fragile” and that the singer, who was 16 at the time, had very little support and appeared increasingly on edge.

“In the final weeks of the show she was so upset about an outfit that she aggressively waved scissors at one of my assistants,” Grace said. “But there was no ­protocol in place for when something like that happened.”

The stylist added that no one came to sit down and talk to her or counsel her, and suggested this reaction was not uncommon as “the judges were only with them when the cameras were rolling”.

Meanwhile, she said that Rebecca “grew quieter” and that being away from her children left her struggling.

Grace continued to say that judges Cheryl and Dannii Minogue were often in tears as they found it difficult to cope with the pressure.

“During the series I remember seeing both in tears,” she said. “You only have to look at how many times the female judges changed during the show’s history to see their places on that panel were not that secure.”

The stylist also claimed she was “belittled” by the show’s production team and executives after having a fling with winner Matt Cardle – while suggesting that he escaped without reproach.

“I still feel deeply shamed today,’ she said. “But to my knowledge, there were no repercussions for Matt. Days later I was told he was dating one of the dancers. The attitude there was, ‘Boys will be boys.’”

Grace, who is now a campaigner for Women’s Aid, said that she was asked to return to the show the following year but asked for a higher wage, which they refused.

She claims that weeks later it was falsely reported that she was fired from the show, which she says left her traumatised and led her to have a breakdown.

“My experience on it broke me and left my career in tatters,” she said. “And I wasn’t ready for that. No one warned me. I wish to this day I’d never gone on the show.”

The Mirror has contacted The X Factor and the reps for Simon Cowell, Cher Lloyd and Liam Payne for comment.

A spokesman for the show told Silver Screen Beat: “The well-being of everyone involved in any of our programming is paramount.

“We have thorough and robust duty-of-care protocols in place to provide support for anyone who may need it, including psychologists on hand to provide expert opinion.

“If we are made aware of any concerns, we treat the issue seriously and investigate immediately.”