News In Depth
Stories behind X Factor finalists
After months of auditions, showstopping performances and heartbreak, just three contestants remain with the hope of securing victory in this weekend's X Factor final.
Over two nights, the trio will aim to impress viewers and judges with the hope of making their dreams come true by clinching the title.
Here are the final three:
:: Christopher Maloney
Former cruise singer Maloney was thrown a lifeline by the public after he was initially rejected for the finals, but has since sailed through to the climax of the show.
Over-28s mentor Gary Barlow had opted not to take him through to the live finals because of his nerves.
But viewers took a shine to the 34-year-old customer services manager from Liverpool and voted him through as the wildcard contestant.
Maloney had said he wanted to compete in X Factor for years but was always too nervous to apply, but eventually went for it with the encouragement of his grandmother Pat.
The Liverpudlian has become a controversial figure in the competition with many people considering him a touch on the cheesy side and he has received boos from the studio audience some weeks. Yet he has consistently managed to avoid finishing in the bottom, thanks to the apparent loyalty of the voting public.
The hostility in some quarters has even led to Maloney receiving death threats on Twitter.
In recognition of his nan's influence, he secured his place in the final with a well-received performance of Josh Groban's You Raise Me Up, which he dedicated to his grandmother.
Wags have lampooned him by circulating online a spoof album cover entitled Songs For Me Nan and there have been suggestions that is picking up votes to spite show boss Simon Cowell because he has the least chart appeal of the finalists.
Speaking this week as he made a homecoming visit to Liverpool, he said: "I feel like the only time I will ever prove my critics wrong is if I actually walk away and win the competition.
"But I've come this far and people have been picking up the phone and voting for me. It's just been overwhelming, I just feel so humbled."
:: James Arthur
The 24-year-old became an instantly recognisable and striking figure on the show thanks to his heavily tattooed arms and the look of a careworn cherub.
Arthur, from Saltburn, near Middlesbrough, was holed up in a bedsit having problems with depression before entering the competition.
But within months of auditioning he has found himself sharing a stage with rapper and producer Labrinth, who invited him to play at his Manchester gig in October after being impressed with his performance on the ITV1 show.
By his own admission, he went "off the rails" at school following his parents' marriage split and at times was suspended.
He said he had also slept rough sometimes, before volunteering to go into foster care, and he turned to music as a "coping mechanism".
Arthur, who has been championed by former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, applied for X Factor after his friends encouraged him to audition.
He wowed the panel with a heartfelt version of Tulisa's Young and viewers have seen him mixing dubstep, rapping and strumming his acoustic guitar during the live shows.
But there were doubts about whether he was cut out for the contest when early on in the live stages he had a panic attack after performing Mary J Blige's No More Drama.
After landing in the bottom two and surviving a sing-off against Ella Henderson, Arthur said: "I guess I'm not your conventional X Factor contestant, so maybe that's why people don't pick up the phone, I genuinely don't know - but all I can do is keep doing what I'm doing and stick to what I know best."
:: Jahmene Douglas
Nervy and clean-cut Jahmene Douglas has been this year's silent assassin, quietly seeing off many of the show's expected big hitters.
Yet the 22-year-old from Swindon has said throughout this year's X Factor he is his own toughest critic and he struggled earlier in the competition with a lack of confidence.
As he told viewers in the early stages of the contest: "I'm a stay-at-home kinda guy, I don't mingle very well."
Prior to the contest he had patrolled the aisles of Asda marking down products as they neared their best-before limit, but viewers clearly do not think he has reached his sell-by date as he progressed through to the final without ever finishing in the bottom two.
He was actually invited to take part in X Factor after a clip of him singing was seen on YouTube.
At the audition he won over the judges with his rendition of Etta James' At Last, with his eventual mentor Nicole Scherzinger telling him: "We need more singers like you, real singers. I just wanna take you and eat ya up honey."
Douglas, who sang in his church choir growing up, brought the judges to tears with his semi-final performance of Whitney Houston's I Look To You, dedicated to his late brother.
He has spoken of the difficult life he and his mother had during his childhood, and how he wants to win the contest for her. Douglas said victory would "give her hope she's always needed to move on from everything that has happened in the past".