The X Factor 2004
In early 2004, Brookstein auditioned for the first series of The X Factor, a new television talent show that aimed to discover a star recording artist in the UK (effectively replacing Pop Idol). His audition failed to impress two of the judges, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh, who thought he lacked the motivation and confidence to succeed but the third, Simon Cowell, asked Brookstein to return later that afternoon and sing again.
At the second audition, Brookstein managed to impress the other judges and was put through to the next stage of the competition. He went on to reach the live shows, where contestants are put to the public vote, as one of three contestants in the Over 25s category mentored by Cowell. He reached the grand final on 11 December 2004 alongside G4, and won despite a controversial outburst against him from Osbourne. However, according to Sharon Osbourne's subsequent autobiography, he had won every one of the live shows and still holds the record for the winner with the highest ever votes received in the final - 6 million.