X Factor hopefuls waiting to audition were paid a surprise visit by a former winner.
Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall stopped by the Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, to chat to people waiting to sing for producers of the ITV talent show.
Three previous winners of the show have already come from South Shields.
Joe McElderry, from Westoe, claimed victory in 2009, and has since gone on to release four studio albums.
Jade, from Laygate, came out on top of the show in 2011, alongside bandmates Perrie Edwards, also from South Shields, Jesy Nelson and Leigh-Anne Pinnock.
The 21-year-old also had some advice for those hoping to make it onto the show, telling them to sing something new and original and not to get upset if they don’t make it through on their first go.
The star took time to chat to auditionees and pose for pictures.
“It’s about time the X Factor came to South Shields,” she said. “There are three winners from here, which for a small town it’s unbelievable. Hopefully there’s another winner in the queue.
“It’s lovely to be at The Customs House. I have nice memories of performing here and I hope one day Little Mix can perform here too. It’s a lovely theatre with lovely people.”
The girls made it to the bootcamp stages of the talent contest before they were put into a girl band with fellow contestants Jesy Nelson and Leigh-Anne Pinnock. Little Mix, became the first group to win the show. They have since released two albums, secured two No 1 singles and travelled all over the world.
They also recorded this year’s official Sport Relief charity single, a cover of Cameo’s Word Up!
The Customs House trials were in front of the show’s producers – not the judges – who selected candidates to advance to the televised auditions.
The first yes of the day went to Rebecca King, who impressed judges by performing Fix You by Coldplay.
The 19-year-old from Jarrow said: “I was so nervous before auditioning. I’m glad I brought my family along, they always gave me loads of support.
“I’ve performed at The Customs House before, with Prose Youth Theatre and Alison Metcalfe.
“Dancing in front of so many people has given me loads of confidence and I’d recommend it to anyone.” South Tyneside band The Waiters also got through to the next round singing a song they’d written themselves.
Band member Martin King, 20, from South Shields, said: “We’re so happy they liked us! We were told it went really well and had great originality.
“Halfway through we were asked to stop, which was really scary. Thankfully it was because they liked us!
“We performed at the Customs House recently for a band night. It was a really great experience and we see this place as a big stepping stone for young people. They’ve helped us so much.”