6,000 hopefuls queued for hours for their chance to sing their way to stardom.
Three-time X Factor reject Emma Chawner and fiancee of Happy Mondays freaky dancer Bez, Monica Ward, were among those hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Joe McElderry.
Host Dermot O’Leary told the M.E.N. he was excited that the show had kicked off again.
“This is the first audition back, it’s great,” he said. “Manchester and London are our two big centres. The great thing about Manchester is that it attracts the whole of the north. Joe McElderry came here last year.
“It’s not a self-conscious city so you get some great characters. London is a bit more reserved. “Every time we do this we worry if we can top the year before. It’s a challenge to keep on making a fun show.” This year is the seventh series of Simon Cowell’s hit show, which has made stars of Manchester’s Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke and boyband JLS.
Auditions will be held in Glasgow, Cardiff, Birmingham, London and Dublin throughout the rest of April and into May. The show is set to return to the screens in the summer. Monica, who lives with Mark ‘Bez’ Berry in Whalley Range, is the lead singer in his most recent band Domino Bones. She sang Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday by Stevie Wonder.
She said: “I thought I’d sing something a bit different. I’m a classically-trained singer and I’ve been in Domino Bones for a while but I’ve decided to sell out and go down the commercial route. It’s got to be done.” Also in the queue was Claire Wilkinson, 31, from Rotheram, who sang jazz standard Summertime at the audition. She said: “I live and breath music. I’m hoping to get through, I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”
Gavin Bird, a 22-year-old fruit factory worker from Devon, said his friends had sponsored him so he could afford the trip up to Old Trafford. He said: “I’m quite shy and really nervous but I want to do it for myself and my friends.” Mum-of-two Rebecca Ferguson, a 23-year-old law student from Liverpool, sang Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye. She said: “I auditioned for X Factor when I was 19 but got nervous and turned to mush. I’m a bit older and more relaxed now so I’m feeling quite confident.”