FROM Steve Brookstein to Matt Cardle, it’s fair to say that time isn’t always kind to X Factor winners.

But while obscurity knocks for the majority, Alexandra Burke has gone from strength to strength since her 2008 victory over JLS brought the singer the kind of fame that has been so fleeting for so many others.

“I auditioned when I was 19 and I’m 31 now so obviously I’m a different person,” said Alexandra. “But it’s amazing to have come from a show like that and still be able to work and do what I love.

“At the end of the day it has made a lot of people’s careers and I remain a fan of the X Factor - it’s where I came from and it gave me am amazing platform to do what I wanted to do. I’m very lucky.”

She’s being modest of course. Alexandra’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, became the top-selling single of 2008 in the UK and the UK’s Christmas 2008 number one, selling over one million copies in the UK alone, a first for a British female soloist. Then there’s her success in the West End, which has seen her star in Chess at the London Coliseum and as Roxie in Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre. In 2017, she reached the final of Strictly Come Dancing, but it’s in her role as Rachel Marron in the award-winning smash hit musical The Bodyguard that she arrives in Manchester this Christmas.

“I’m so excited,” said Alexandra, who will reprise the role made famous by Whitney Houston in the 1992 blockbuster. “It’s going to be lovely to be in the same place for four weeks after touring so much. Manchester is only three hours from home and my family are all fans of the city so they’ll all definitely be visiting.”

The musical version of The Bodyguard features a host of Whitney classics including So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and one of the biggest hit songs of all time – I Will Always Love You.

“I was first offered the show when I was 23,” she explained. “I turned it down but then went back when I was 26 and I haven’t looked back. It means a lot to me because it was my first ever theatre show and it will always be my baby.

“I grew up listening to Whitney Houston’s albums non stop and would learn all the words before performing them to my family. She was unique and from an early age she was clearly so talented which was what Clive Davis (president of Arista Records and Whitney’s mentor) saw in her. The songs still touch something inside people and there are kids today who although they might not have grown up listening to her they definitely know who she is. Hopefully me playing this role in The Bodyguard will help keep her legacy alive and it’s obvious from the crowds that she still connects with people despite her not being around. I’ll think she’ll always have that.”

Whitney’s personal struggles overshadowed her later career, with her drug use and a tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown blamed for her tragic early death in 2012. In recent years, Alexandra has also faced her fair share of sadness, with the death of her mum, singer Melissa Bell, overshadowing her appearance on Strictly.

“I definitely think people can relate to Whitney’s songs,” she said. “Of course she didn’t write her own songs but I remember reading somewhere about what I fine storyteller she was. She could be given any song, even Humpty Dumpty, and make someone connect with it. She had that through her vocal ability alone.

“I think how I’ve made Rachel my own is that my emotions are very raw and real in every performance. I haven’t professionally trained in acting so I draw from a very real place and really feel it and that’s why sometimes I struggle with the role emotionally. I end up in tears on stage every performance.”

Not only was Alexandra’s mum a member of Soul II Soul , but she also sang as a backing vocalist with Whitney, giving her daughter an extraordinary link to the woman she is now playing onstage.

“It feels like such a crazy connection,” she said. “My mum used to do backing vocals for Whitney and when my mum sang with her on Top of the Pops she spoke to Whitney about me and said ‘oh my daughter really loves you and wants to be a singer’ and Whitney’s advice to me was to keep working and never stop – to strike whilst the iron’s hot. That’s why in the past 10 years I’ve never really stopped as that’s stuck with me – work hard and strike whilst the iron’s hot.”

Describing herself as ‘a grafter’, the physical demands of her role are also shrugged off by Alexandra who has clearly learnt a thing or two about multi-tasking in recent years.

“I haven’t found the transition into musicals too difficult, in fact I’ve embraced it,” she said. “Every day is a learning experience on this show and you are always learning something new about yourself or the character which means you can never get complacent.

“The songs aren’t easy to sing, luckily some of them aren’t in Whitney’s key which I’m very thankful for. At the same time, it’s very rewarding. Singing Whitney Houston six times a week is no joke and it’s very hard but also incredible.”

n The Bodyguard is at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until Saturday, January 4. Tickets from £13 available from