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Journalist Martin Bashir shocks the judges on The X Factor: Celebrity

Journalist Martin Bashir was the breakout star from the first episode of the The X Factor: Celebrity (Thames/Fremantle/PA)
Journalist Martin Bashir was the breakout star from the first episode of the The X Factor: Celebrity (Thames/Fremantle/PA)

Journalist Martin Bashir was the breakout star from the first episode of the The X Factor: Celebrity after telling how his late brother inspired him to take part in the show.

The broadcaster is one of 15 stars competing for a record deal on the new edition of ITV’s long-running talent show, alongside contestants including dancer Brendan Cole, American TV host Ricki Lake and Glee actor Kevin McHale.

Simon Cowell will judge the series alongside Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger. Dermot O’Leary is on hosting duties.

Martin Bashir
Journalist Martin Bashir shocked the X Factor judges with his cover of a Nat King Cole song (Thames/Fremantle/PA)

Saturday’s opening episode saw the celebrity contestants getting acquainted poolside at a mansion in the rolling hills of Los Angeles, before making the trip to Cowell’s ocean-side home in Malibu.

The contestants were performing in Cowell’s garden in front of the judging panel and a crowd of famous faces including America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel and prolific songwriter Diane Warren.

Bashir, famous for his high-profile TV interviews with Diana, Princess of Wales and Michael Jackson, surprised the crowd with his cover of Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E.

X Factor
The celebrity X Factor contestants met at a Los Angeles mansion ahead of the first round of auditions (Thames/Fremantle/PA)

The 56-year-old had the star-studded audience – including the notoriously hard-to-please Cowell – dancing along.

However, it was his speech following his performance that reduced some in the crowd to tears as he explained how the death of his brother inspired him to come on the show.

Bashir revealed Tommy was born with muscular dystrophy and died in 1991.

“When you grow up with a child, and you fight over toys, and you’re aged four and he never fights back, and by the time he’s 13 he can’t feed himself, you feel you have no excuse for turning down opportunities,” Bashir said.

Kevin McHale
Former Glee actor Kevin McHale was a hit with the judges on X Factor (Thames/Fremantle/PA)

“Tommy died in 1991 and every time I’ve faced a challenge I’ve heard him whispering ‘what excuse do you have? You have no excuse. You’ve never sung but someone’s come to you and said give it a shot’.

“And that’s my motivation.”

Earlier in the episode, Love Island stars Wes Nelson, Eyal Booker, Samira Mighty and Zara McDermott had opened the show, performing as a group named The Islanders.

Their rendition of Shawn Mendes’ There’s Nothing Holding Me Back was a hit with the judges.

X Factor
The Chase quizzer Jenny Ryan performed a cover of a Queen song on X Factor (Thames/Fremantle /PA)

Former Glee actor McHale  – who played wheelchair user Artie Abrams on the hit show – was also well-received for his version of Camila Cabello’s Never Be The Same, while Cowell was full of praise for teenage YouTube stars Max and Harvey.

The twin brothers performed two songs – Ed Sheeran’s I Don’t Care and the Jonas Brothers’ Sucker – with Walsh declaring: “I think we’ve found something special.”

One act which did not hit the right note, however, was Strictly’s Cole and his stage partner Jeremy Edwards, an actor known for roles in Hollyoaks and Holby City.

They performed a cover of Kylie Minogue’s Love At First Sight, which did not appear to go down well with the audience.

Mandel said it “looked like a miscast musical”. 

Other performers included Hayley Hasselhoff, the 27-year-old daughter of Baywatch star David, The Chase quizzer Jenny Ryan, and rugby stars Thom Evans, Ben Foden and Levi Davis, performing together as Try-Star

The remaining acts – talk show host Lake, social media influencers V5, Coronation Street actress Victoria Ekanoye, Soap star Jonny Labey, Actress Olivia Olson and former The Only Way Is Essex star Megan McKenna – will have their performances shown next week.

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