Andrew Ridgeley says he fears for X Factor contestants

Wham! star Andrew Ridgeley has described modern TV talent shows like The X Factor as "brutal", and said he fears for the "consequences" for some of the contestants.

Over the years, The X Factor has made stars of performers such as James Arthur, Shayne Ward and Alexandra Burke – but many others have either been ridiculed or disappeared after brief fame.

"They have unearthed talent over the years. But it is very brutal way of doing that and I am not a big fan myself," Ridgeley said.

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Singer George Michael arrives at the London Hilton hotel, for tonight's celebrity fashion show, which is held for the charity London Lighthouse, the centre for people suffering with HIV and AIDS.
Floral tributes are left outside the home of George Michael in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on the second anniversary of the singer's death.
Tributes to George Michael outside his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. George Michael's family have asked fans to remove their tributes from outside the late singer's former homes for the sake of his neighbours.
Tributes to George Michael outside his house in Highgate, north London. George Michael's family have asked fans to remove their tributes from outside the late singer's former homes for the sake of his neighbours.
Tributes outside George Michael's house in Highgate, North London, UK, following the singer's death.
Singer George Michael performs during the Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, on the final day of the London 2012 Olympics.
George Michael (right) presents Jonathan Ross with the 2009 Music Industry Trusts' Award at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London.
George Michael is seen performing in concert at Earls Court, London.
George Michael is seen performing in concert at Earls Court, London.
Singer George Michael performs at the MEN Arena in Manchester during his '25 Live' world tour.
Singer George Michael performs at the MEN Arena in Manchester during his '25 Live' world tour.
Singer George Michael performs at the MEN Arena in Manchester during his '25 Live' world tour.
Capital radio presenters Johnny Vaughn (left) and Zoe Hanson with George Michael after the singer interviewed Vaughn for Help a London Child.
George Michael receives the Lifetime Contribution Award during the 7th annual GQ Men Of The Year Awards at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, central London.
Singer George Michael (right) and his partner Kenny Goss arrive for Attitude Magazine's 10th Birthday Party at the Atlantic Bar & Grill in central London, to celebrate 10 years for the gay style magazine.
Singers George Michael and Geri Halliwell arrive at the 95.8 Capital FM London Awards in London.
This picture can only be used in conjunction with editorial on NetAid: Singer George Michael performing on stage at the charity NetAid concert, at Wembley Stadium.
This picture can only be used in conjunction with editorial on NetAid: Singer George Michael performing on stage at the charity NetAid concert, at Wembley Stadium.
Library filer dated 3/91 of singer George Michael in concert at Wembley. Police in Beverly Hills have arrested a man who gave his name as George Michael for "disorderly conduct". The man, who gave his occupation as singer, was booked under the name Georgios Panayiotou - the former Wham star's real name - it was confirmed today (Weds). See PA story POLICE Michael. Photo by Fiona Hanson/PA.
PA NEWS PHOTO 29/5/97 SINGER GEORGE MICHAEL AT THE IVOR NOVELLO MUSIC AWARDS IN LONDON
Pop stars George Michael and Annie Lennox, after receiving the best male and female singers awards at Capital Radio FM's star-studded Help A London Child charity lunch at London's Royal Lancaster Hotel.
The Princess of Wales, Patron of the National Aids Trust, shakes hands with pop superstar Mick Hucknall, backstage at Wembley Arena before the Concert of Hope to mark World Aids Day. Also pictured next to Hucknall are David Bowie (r) and George Michael (l).
George Michael singing on stage during the concert.
Pop superstar George Michael in London after he accepted a six-figure undisclosed libel damages in the High Court against The Sun newspaper over stories that he gatecrashed a party being given by Andrew Lloyd Webber and was drunk and abusive.
Pop duo Wham partners, Andrew Ridgeley (l) and George Michael, on stage at Wembley Stadium for their sell-out farewell concert.
George Michael dances on stage at Wembley Stadium for the Wham! sell-out farewell concert.
George Michael at Wembley Stadium for the Wham! sell-out farewell concert.
Left to right: Bono of U2, Paul McCartney, and Freddy Mercury of Queen, during the finale.
Pop stars singing during the finale of the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium: (L-R) George Michael, promoter Harvey Goldstein, Bono (lead singer of U2), Paul McCartney and Freddie Mercury (lead singer of Queen).
Top pop duo Wham! 20 year old singer George Michael (L) and his guitar playing partner Andrew Ridgeley. 21/10/04: Pop duo Wham! whose song Freedom was top of the charts twenty years ago this week.
George Michael (r) and Andrew Ridgeley of Wham at Heathrow Airport before leaving for a tour of Japan.
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"It's a TV programme made for entertainment and I think there is a lot in the way the process is really, really harsh on some kids and I wouldn't at all be surprised if it has lasting consequences for some who don't make it."

Ridgeley, 56, was speaking at an event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival to promote his memoir about his friendship with George Michael entitled Wham! George And Me.

The book details first meeting Michael in 1975 at Bushey Meads School to their rise to fame and success with hits including Last Christmas and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go in the 1980s.

It also covers the band's farewell gig at London's Wembley Stadium on June 28 1986, which Ridgeley wanted to be a tour.

"I felt that it was a slight betrayal of the fans who had supported us globally," he said.

"I felt we should have toured that last show and it would have been a wonderful thing to have done, to bid farewell to our global audience. It was a disappointment."

But Ridgeley said the recording of that final concert would never be released.

"I would love that to happen, but it was never actually filmed or recorded for broadcast and George felt it wasn't of the quality that he would be prepared to be made public," he said.

Wham!
Wham! in their heyday (PA)

Explaining the Wham! split after massive chart success in such a short space of time, Ridgeley said the band was "too restrictive" for Michael.

"Ultimately, he was going to have to move on from Wham! and by its nature it was going to be short-lived," he said.

"The scale and speed of our success hastened the fact we brought it to a close after such a short time."

Following the split, Michael went on to have a major career as a solo artist and became one of the biggest-selling artists of all time. He died on Christmas Day in 2016 at the age of 53.

Meanwhile Ridgeley – who co-wrote Wham! hit Careless Whisper with Michael – largely avoided the limelight, although he released a solo album called Son Of Albert in 1990.

He said he had been the driving force behind the decision to form a band as teenagers, and that Michael was shy as a boy and grew in confidence with age.

George Michael in concert (Max Nash/PA)
George Michael in concert (Max Nash/PA)

Describing when Michael told him he was gay, Ridgeley said: "It was an irrelevance to our relationship, not irrelevant to our career and that's one of the reasons why he was not prepared to make it public.

"He was a very private man and he felt very strongly there was a distinction between his private life and his public life.

"So much was asked of us and of him throughout the course of our public life, that he needed to reserve something for himself.

"He also realised it might be detrimental to Whams! pursuit of success and the image."

Discussing his friend's drug use, Ridgeley said: "There was no helping George I'm afraid and he was very much of his own mind and that was not something he shared with his friends.

"There were certain aspects of his life that were off limits and he wouldn't take advice on them. They weren't for discussion."

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