The X Factor's Fleur East talks ahead of the final this weekend

Fleur East has opened up about her dark past of depression and how she escaped a life of crime after some of her school friends ended up in jail.

The 27-year-old who is hotly tipped to be crowned the winner of this year’s The X Factor on the weekend after her slick performance of Uptown Funk shot to number one on iTunes, has revealed she has been harbouring a secret heartache.

‘The beginning of the year was my lowest point’ she said, adding: ‘There was nothing in my diary – no gigs, nothing going on. I was like “what am I going to do with my life? I was so scared”.’

Fleur continues: ‘I was definitely depressed. I was waking up at whatever time and watching Friends repeats in my pyjamas all day, every day.’

It was only family that could pull her out of her slump, after they encouraged her to get up, shake her tail-feather and audition for The X Factor.

‘I got up, got in the gym and I had something to work towards.’

And it’s certainly paid off looking at her killer abs to which she credits doing 100 sit ups a day to achieve as well as pounding the treadmill for one hour a day.

She may be preparing for a glittering life that is set to come after being a star of The X Factor, but Fleur has certainly come a long way from her humble beginnings growing up in Walthamstow, east London.

She revealed: ‘There was lots of that happening – knives being pulled and fights going on.’

Some of her friends even went to prison, but Fleur was determined to avoid that route when she witnessed horrific knife fights happening right in front of her as she walked home from school.

She said: ‘I’d just say “OK” and walk home. I was just too scared to intervene, so I’d stay away from it,’ adding ‘It didn’t attract me. I wasn’t intrigued by danger. I think I had fear instilled in me by my parents not to even go there.’

That’s why Fleur is over the moon, her folks, as well as her army of fans are cheering her on all the way…

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Sarah Tetteh