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EXCLUSIVE: Rebecca Ferguson claims ITV “mentally manipulated and abused” X Factor wannabes  

REBECCA Ferguson has claimed ITV “mentally manipulated and abused” X Factor contestants and said Ofcom left her “fobbed off” when she raised concerns about the treatment of artists on reality shows.

The former ‘X Factor’ contestant, 36, has gone public with an email she sent to the broadcaster and the broadcasting watchdog in 2021, which she used to call for an “urgent inquiry to ensure the future safety of contestants and ensure adequate safeguarding measures are put in place to protect future contestants on these shows”.

Rebecca told Politicalite she had raised the concerns after being contacted by former contestants and ITV staff following the 2020 suicide of ‘Love Island’ presenter Caroline Flack, and said she decided to make her complaint and the responses to it public amid ITV’s handling of the Phillip Schofield scandal and accusations there was a “toxic” culture behind the scenes of ‘This Morning’.

She said: “I feel that if I don’t speak up now then these issues will never be dealt with.

“The public can be hypnotised by TV. They think it’s all glitz and glamour but what has happened with ‘This Morning’ is the first time I’ve seen the public wake up.”

Rebecca’s 2021 complaint alleged reality show contestants were forced into contracts without independent legal advice and “mentally manipulated and abused”, as well as “reduced to tears due to pressure (and) bullying”.

Rebecca sent her email to ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall and other senior management at the broadcaster.

The singer added she was “shocked” she had an online meeting with Ofcom officials following her complaint, but they were apparently unwilling to investigate.

ITV said: “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.”

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Ofcom said it had been in contact with Ferguson about her 2021 correspondence, adding: “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 5 April, 2021.”

A spokesman for ‘The X Factor’ insisted about how it had had always taken contestants’ welfare seriously: “During the 2010 series of ‘The X Factor’, there were robust measures in place to ensure everyone involved in the making of the programme was supported throughout their experience and beyond including a dedicated welfare team made up of psychologists, doctors, welfare producers and independent legal and management advisers with no time limit on aftercare once the show had aired.”

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