The two faces of X Factor: One's a show-off with doubtful talent...the other overcame adversity to win Cambridge degree

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He has made a dubious name for himself as the X Factor’s resident lothario and hellraiser.

But, as these pictures uncovered by the Mail show, 18-year-old Frankie Cocozza wasn’t always the bad boy he’d like audiences to think he is.

They reveal the wild-haired wannabe, who made his debut on the ITV talent show by dropping his trousers on stage to reveal the tattooed names of girls he met over the summer, was once an innocent-looking schoolboy with a sweet smile.

And while friends say he was always an extrovert with a ‘cheeky personality’, Cocozza’s latest incarnation as an unabashed ladies’ man has proved to be something of a shock.

This week the X Factor hopeful left show bosses panicking as he went on a 12-hour booze bender. ITV has already been forced to apologise after he swore on live television.

Cocozza, a college drop-out, boasts he has slept with 69 women after losing his virginity at 12. But his transformation from cherubic child to rebel seems less surprising when one learns that his father, Frankie Senior, boasts about his son’s conquests – seemingly proud to admit that the number is higher than his.

He split from Cocozza’s mother, Tina Pynn, when his son was only a year old.

Mrs Pynn, who works at the exclusive Roedean school in East Sussex, admits she has been a ‘nervous wreck’ since their son hit the headlines.

Cocozza began performing when he was six, at a theatre group in his home town of Brighton. At 15, rather tellingly, he won the part of the Artful Dodger in a production of Oliver!

It seems he always wanted to see his name in lights. He has applied to the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent in the past but did not make it to the audition stage until this year.

Katy Markey, 27, a producer at City Youth Theatre Company in Brighton, first met Cocozza when he joined the Brighton Theatre Group.

She said: ‘It has been a shock seeing Frankie on the X Factor. He was never such a lad in the past, though I think the girls liked his cheeky personality. He didn’t portray himself as a ladies’ man before.

‘When I saw him on TV and saw the tattoos on his bum, I thought, “Oh Frankie, what have you done?”

‘I don’t think he will win, because he hasn’t got the best voice. Maybe someone will sign him up after this. Or he could be a TV presenter. I think he’s quite similar to Russell Brand.’

Cocozza’s antics do not seem to have endeared him to the audience. He is now the bookies’ 6/5 favourite to get the boot from the show in this weekend’s double eviction.

Tulisa Contostavlos has fallen ill, just a week after rival judge Kelly Rowland missed two shows with a viral throat infection.

The 23-year-old had to call out an emergency doctor in the middle of the night on Thursday, and cancelled all X Factor promotional commitments yesterday.

...While The Risk's John-Baptiste was taken into care at four and overcame huge personal adversity to win a Cambridge degree


Millions watched as he was reduced to tears over his decision to quit the X Factor.

But while mentor Tulisa Contostavlos dismissively said Ashley John-Baptiste ‘couldn’t hack the pressure’, it appears nothing could be further from the truth.

For what she didn’t tell those watching at home is that the 22-year-old overcame tremendous adversity to win a place to study history at Cambridge – and then graduate this summer with a 2.1.

Battle: Ashley John-Baptiste, second from left

Rather than buckling under pressure, Mr John-Baptiste made the difficult decision to leave because he wanted to succeed as a singer-songwriter in his own right, instead of with boyband The Risk. And he chose to quit now so that it wouldn’t have an adverse effect on the other members of the band, which was formed by the show’s producers.

But while the X Factor has focused in great detail on other contestants’ backgrounds, the remarkable story of how he overcame his troubled childhood to study at one of the world’s best universities has only now come to light.

Mr John-Baptiste grew up in South London, where he was born to a black father and a white mother.

At the age of four he was taken into care.

He grew up being shuttled between foster families and children’s homes, and moved primary school three times.

A bright student, he attended a comprehensive school which has three times the number of children from deprived backgrounds than the national average.

There, with the help of his MP, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes, he battled to win a place at Cambridge – despite being discouraged by his local council.

The singer, who acted as a mentor to other students who grew up in care while at university, said: ‘The local authority weren’t keen on me going at all.

‘They thought it would be too expensive. If it wasn’t for my MP fighting for me, I wouldn’t have got the support I needed to go.

‘I don’t feel bitter about it at all. They are constrained by bureaucracy. They made it harder for me to go, but I knew I was never going to settle for not going.’

Mr Hughes said: ‘He has made a brave but really honourable decision. Deep down he always wanted to be a singer and songwriter on his own rather than be in a band.

‘By stepping back now he has made sure he does not harm the long-term prospects of the other guys in The Risk while being true to himself.

‘I really believe his musical talents are already becoming known and a great career can lie ahead of him.’