X Factor star unrecognisable years after show as he ties knot after Syco feud

One X Factor star is unrecognisable 16 years after appearing on the hit ITV talent show and starting a feud with head judge Simon Cowell.

Sean Smith shot to fame as one half of the brother-sister duo Same Difference in 2007, alongside his sister Sarah. The pair finished in third place and signed a record deal with Cowell’s record label Syco – going on to tour the world. But in 2014, they were dropped by the label.

The decision was said to be because of disappointing album sales, when their debut record Pop peaked at number 22 in the charts. Sarah blamed it on “distribution problems”, and said she knew it was a “one album, one single deal” when signing up.

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Now Sean looks totally different as he tied the knot with his new wife Lyuda Lakovenko. Taking to social media this week, he announced his nuptials and shared a series of sweet snaps from the day – and looks nothing like his Same Difference days.

In a white tuxedo, Sean sported a rugged beard and swept back mouse brown hair. He’s also been spotted sporting a hunky new physique, and in one snap showed off the bulging muscles in his arms in a short sleeved Hawaiian shirt.

At one point the star bleached his hair bright blonde for appearances on ITV’s Loose Women, showing off his enormous biceps in a short sleeved black tee. He even sports a tattoo on his chest of two intricately inked doves.

Fans rushed to comment on his stunning wedding snaps, with one writing: “Lucky lady, congrats!” while someone else said: “Beautiful couple!” A third said: “Aww congratulations Sean, you both look amazing!”

After their Syco record deal flopped, he and his sister Sarah signed a new deal with PopLife Records, going on to tour various Pontins Holiday Parks around the UK. He took to the stage in various pantomimes and turned to a solo music career, performing alongside the likes of Jane McDonald and The Overtones.

His debut solo single, Turn Me On, was released in 2016, while he’s also appeared in We Will Rock You the musical and That’s Entertainment. And despite going solo, he teamed up with his sister again in 2020 to release a charity single with proceeds going to the Covid-19 Urgent Appeal.

On the show, they made headlines for their ongoing feud with a baffled Simon Cowell as they belted out the Friends theme tune. He told them to: “Lose the crazy faces, screaming and shouting”, adding: “This is just so insane at the moment. You are so funny you two. God, I pity your parents."

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Sarah initially wasn’t meant to audition and had come to support her brother, but producers liked her and asked them to sing together as a band. Sean told The Mirror: “It could have been anyone stood in that queue and it just happened to be us that got all the way to the final.”

Sean said he wishes Syco had “given it a bit longer” before ditching them, explaining: “There were pop acts like The Saturdays at the time that we outsold in a week when they had been going for six weeks. They got a second deal and were pushed constantly in the media.

"It feels like we never got given the chance. We were either going to be as huge as Leona Lewis was the year before and be multi-platinum all over the world or it just wasn't going to happen.”

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