IT HAS become a by-word for television talent shows and there is no sign of it letting up.

This weekend sees the launch of the twelfth series of The X Factor, where stars will be born and dreams dashed in equal measure.

Millions tune in each week to see which hopeful will make it through the auditions, boot camp, judges' houses and whatever other elimination challenge producers might also throw into the mix.

For those that do make it all the way a record deal awaits and a potential guaranteed Christmas number one spot and maybe the chance to follow in the paths of Leona Lewis, One Direction and Olly Murs – who this year fronts the show.

That was the dream for the crop of Hampshire-based acts that waited in the queues with thousands of others hoping to be picked by Cowell and his judging cronies.

And that did happen for some.

But once the sparkle of Saturday night stardom wore off, what happened to those lucky few who had their moment of fame?

Most recently it was Tom Mann – a former football coach from Chandler’s Ford who was striving to make it big through the talent show.

He made up one eighth of the boy band Stereo Kicks who were formed by the mentors and who came fifth in the last series under the mentoring of Louis Walsh.

The band also took part in The X Factor tour but struggled to secure a record deal after that.

A year on from where his X Factor journey began, Tom now finds himself as a solo singer after the band announced they were to spilt last month.

But Tom remains on a high from the experience saying it was the “best of his life”.

He told the Daily Echo: “It’s been a year of ups and downs - a lot of moments filled with hope and utmost disappointment, but I wouldn’t change one single thing about it. I learned so much about myself and grew as a person. It sounds ridiculous but when I think back now it all feels like a dream. I did a TV show, a UK arena tour, a headline tour and wrote the band’s single which came out on Sony in June all in the space of under a year. I got to travel the country in luxury, meet some amazing people and make memories that I’ll keep with me forever. I still feel very lucky.”

Scoffing at the idea of whether he would think twice about doing the show again, Tom said: “Are you mad! I sang with Queen live on national television to 9 million people! Of course I’d say do it - it changes your life.

“There’s a stigma and maybe there always will be, but the one thing that you can’t deny is that the platform that show presents you with. Opportunities that most people in the world will never ever be lucky enough to live. It’s a bubble and at times it was sheer craziness, but I’d do it a thousand times again if I could. If you love music and, more importantly if you want to pursue commercial music as a career, then why would you not? It’s an audition which could bring you a dream job, no different from any other occupation anywhere else in the world. Sure it’s not the be-all and end-all… and, yes, there’s evidently other ways to succeed in the industry, but sometimes you just need a break. If you’re thinking about it then do it - life is too short to pass up things as big as that.

Tom is now embarking on his own ‘mini tour’ with an EP entitled In the Blink of an Eye

which is released on September 5.

The harsh nature of the showbiz industry was a lesson learned by Southampton four-piece Reason4. In fact it was a lesson dished out almost immediately as the city-based band made it as far as the judges houses in 2010 before being eliminated by mentor Simon Cowell in favour of another little known act called One Direction.

The group that had been put together by Cowell from the five boys who had auditioned as individuals in fact took the last spot in the category to go through to the live finals, pipping Reason 4 to the post.

It was a cruel end to the Southampton-based band - comprising of painter and decorator Glenn Vine, Marc Higgins, Nathan Rawlings, who was an electrician and Scott White, a crane driver -who had been working for years together as an established four-piece.

Now the owner of a tattoo parlour in Southampton, former band member Nathan Rawlings, says he still looks back on the whole experience fondly and remains philosophical about what happened.

“Don’t get me wrong at the time we were absolutely gutted, we had been working away as a band for some time so to have this manufactured band brought in to take the spot was hard to take at the time.

“They know what they are doing though, you just have to look at what happened to that band!”

Nathan said he would never dissuade anyone from trying X Factor as a way into the industry but warned those that do have to go in with their eyes open.

He said: “ You could go in there with an amazing singing voice but if you are not what they are looking for that year you wont make it.

“Luckily in our band we were all mates and had each other to lean on after that but for others picking yourself up when it doesn’t work out can be hard.”

The band were given some management support from the show after the tour and other opportunities but after 18 months of hitting the road and trying to get signed the quartet decided to call it a day. Now the four have all gone back to the “day jobs”, with the exception of Marc who joined the Royal Navy, but Nathan says they don’t regret their foray into the business.

It is also the memories that Laura Downton will take from her time on the show, making it as far as the boot-camp stage in 2007 with girlband Afrodisiac.

She said: “It still makes me laugh every time I look back at the video. In my excitement at getting through to bootcamp I did a forwards roll out of the audition room!

“While we didn’t make it to the judges’ houses we had great fun and made some amazing memories along the way. The show lifted our profile and for a good couple of years afterwards we were gigging all over the UK and even abroad.”

The girls are still together although have eased off the gigs to concentrate on our careers and other musical projects.

The year Reason 4 had their chance they were not only up against One Direction but also Southampton-born Matt Cardle, who in fact beat the boy band to win the show that year.

After releasing three top 40 studio albums which included a collaboration with former Spice Girl Mel C who he met at the Isle of Wight festival, Matt is currently starring in the West End show Memphis - alongside Beverley Knight.

Matt says he has enjoyed his foray into musical theatre and says without X Factor he would not have had the opportunities in his career.

having said that, he has gone on record to say leaving Simon Cowell’s label Syco was the best thing he did, so that he could concentrate on his own musical path.

of the industry he said: “It’s tough, it’s unforgiving. You’ve got to work and I have been for a long time.”

Asked if he would still enter X Factor if he had his time again Matt says he “wouldn’t change a thing”, but that ultimately he would like to shake off the association when he has progressed more in his career.