As X Factor kicks off, we launch our Star Search

Ray Spencer laying down a track in the CustomSpace recording studio.
Ray Spencer laying down a track in the CustomSpace recording studio.

THE world’s biggest TV talent contest is back – and that is also giving local talent the chance to take the first step on the ladder to stardom.

Love it or hate it, The X Factor hits TV screens tonight as a new series kicks off.

The ITV1 show is welcoming back its creator Simon Cowell as a judge, as well as seeing the much-anticipated return of Geordie singer Cheryl Cole – or Cheryl Fernandez-Versini as she’s now known – alongside judging veteran Louis Walsh and new girl, former Spice Girl Mel B.

Three talented South Tynesiders have already claimed victory in previous years.

Joe McElderry was first in 2009.

The then 18-year-old beat Olly Murs to the top prize after being mentored by Cheryl.

Since then, he has gone on to release four albums and perform around the world.

Joe has also taken a step into theatre, having appeared in the title role in West End show Tommy, making a special appearance in the musical, Dirty Dancing at the Sunderland Empire, and pantomime Cinderella at the Beck Theatre, in Hayes.

The singer will return to panto this year as the spirit of the mirror in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Alhambra Theatre, in Bradford.

Then in 2011, girl band Little Mix became the first group to win the show after being put together 
in the boot camp stages of the contest.

South Shields girls Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall had auditioned as solo artists before being grouped with fellow contestants Jesy Nelson and Leigh-Anne Pinnock.

Since then, the girls have stormed the charts around the world, released two albums, and performed around the globe. They are currently working on their third studio album.

Three years on, is it about time we saw another talented borough singer fighting it out for the top prize?

To celebrate the return of the show, we’ve teamed up with the CustomSpace, in The Captain’s Row, South Shields, to offer one lucky winner the chance to record a song in the venue’s state-of-the-art studio.

Ray Spencer, executive director of sister venue the Customs House, said: “Over the years South Tyneside has produced some phenomenal talent and it’s wonderful we have somewhere like the CustomSpace to nurture the next generation.

“Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall and fellow Pride of South Tyneside winners The Waiters and Abi Garrido have used the CustomSpace to write and record music.

“I’m sure the next music star of the future is just around the corner.”

Singers of any age and style can enter our South Tyneside Star Search competition.

All you need to do to enter is send us a 30-second video clip of you singing, along with your name, age, and contact details.

E-mail your entry to

Tune in to ITV1 tonight at 8pm to watch The X Factor.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki