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Cheryl Cole battled crippling nerves to pull in record 14.8m 'X Factor' audience

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The singer was shaking uncontrollably before taking to the stage. But words of encouragement from the acts she is mentoring spurred her on
 Photo: © Rex

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The presence of her Girls Aloud bandmates Kimberley Walsh, Nicola Roberts and Sarah Harding was also of great comfort too
Photo: © ITV 

20 OCTOBER 2009

She's played some of the biggest arenas in England and performed on TV numerous times with her Girls Aloud bandmates.

But when it came to making her debut as solo performer, Cheryl Cole was almost crippled by nerves.

The Geordie lass was shaking uncontrollably before taking to the stage on X Factor's Sunday night show.

She eventually calmed down after being comforted and encouraged by the aspiring stars she is mentoring.

Twenty-six-year-old Cheryl started laughing when she realised she had become like the pupil, telling Joe McEderry, Rikki Loney and Lloyd Daniels: "Shouldn't this be the other way around?"

The humour obviously helped quell the jitters. She went on to wow the audience with a slick performance of her new single Fight For This Love.

Her high-energy routine and a comeback performance from Whitney Houston pulled in a record audience of 14.8 million for Simon Cowell's TV programme.

This was ahead of the 14.6million that watched Alexandra Burke named the winner of last year's series in December.

It was also far ahead of the 8.5 million who watched Strictly Come Dancing the previous evening.

Despite X Factor bosses initially saying Cheryl would pre-record her performance, she did appear live.

Following the high-energy Janet Jackson-inspired routine, the glamorous brunette confirmed reports that she had mimed part of the song, however.

Her spokesman defended the move, saying: "Cheryl sang the verses and not the choruses. This is normal for any performers with an energetic routine."

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