The X Factor is a British television music competition to find new singing talent. The second series ran from 20 August to 17 December 2005. Shayne Ward was declared the winner and Louis Walsh emerged as the winning mentor. The second series was longer than the first, with seven acts in each of the three categories going to the judges' homes, and twelve acts in the finals instead of nine. All three judges — Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh — returned for the series, quashing rumours that Osbourne and Walsh might not return for financial reasons. Kate Thornton also returned as host. 75,000 people auditioned for the second series.
On the back of their performances and popularity in the competition, Ward, Andy Abraham, Journey South and Maria Lawson landed recording contracts. Chico Slimani also released a single which topped the UK Singles Chart.
On the episode broadcast on 24 September 2005, the mentoring selection was made, with Cowell in charge of Groups, Osbourne looking after the Over-25s and Walsh managing the 16–24s. The bootcamp stages were shown on 1 October 2005, and those who got through were taken to the "judges' homes". It was at this stage where viewers were first introduced to future winner Alexandra Burke, who would miss out in this series but would be successful at making it into the finals three years later in the fifth series, which she went on to win.