X Factor 2014 Auditions Week 1: Pieces of Eight

Simon Cowell smashing a guitar to pieces was the most significant moment of the weekend audition shows. It was his way of burying the Barlow era – I wonder if James Arthur got the message. The extended paean to Cheryl Cole on Saturday night and repeated references to 2010 alumni One Direction reinforced this attempted return to the glory days – as did some of the acts.

The important opening-night first slot, recently awarded to the likes of Luke Friend and Frankie Cocozza, went to Blonde Electric. They felt like a female equivalent of 2009’s Jedward long before Simon quipped, “It’s like you’ve been invented by Louis in a computer”. Cowell went on to say, “You might divide the nation,” as if this wasn’t already obviously the intention.

We well know that producers often try to keep in the novelty acts because of their value as talking points – both during auditions and the live shows. Jedward themselves made it to week 7. However, I think the public will be less forgiving of this shtick from a pair of twentysomething women, than they were from the pre-pubescent twins. Electric Blonde are a best price 34.0.

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X Factor 2014 preview

X Factor returns this weekend. You can expect our usual coverage of its machinations and manipulations here on Sofabet. We can’t wait to share our thoughts – and hear yours in our invaluable comments section.

It’s a crucial moment for the franchise: having suffered a decline in ratings over the last few years that has seen it fall behind Strictly Come Dancing, svengali Simon Cowell returns in a bid to boost the show’s flagging popularity.

What can we anticipate? Here are five points based on what we’ve heard so far.
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BBUK, Summer sport discussion thread

Summer is a quieter time for TV betting, but the Sofabet community has a few things to get stuck into, notably Big Brother, back on Channel 5. The power trip theme and an interesting set of housemates holds plenty of promise. Otherwise, some of you may be dipping into the likes of the World Cup and Wimbledon. Do continue to let us know your thoughts below.

BGT 2014: Post-mortem

The voting figures show show that Collabro claimed the crown with 26.5%, ahead of Lucy Kay on 17% and Bars and Melody on 14.3%. Top of the non-singing acts was Darcy Oake in fifth with 8.5%. What can we conclude from the final? Here are five thoughts.

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BGT 2014: The final

Britain’s Got Talent is the most manipulative of TV competitions – and that’s really saying something. There’s little time for acts to build up a following before the semi-finals, which gives great power to Cowellian tactics such as running order, staging and judges’ comments. This year the direct qualifiers filled the following slots in the nine-runner fields (public vote winners in bold): 7, 9, 7, 9, 8, 9, 8, 9, 8, 9.

That carries on into the final, partly because the semi winners have yet to compete against each other. Last year, the acts that won their heats were given the last five places in the running order. Of these, first up was Fracince Lewis who finished tenth of 11, whilst next came Richard & Adam, who were given far less useful staging than in their heat. Winners Attraction got the pimp slot.

So treatment on the night is crucial. That’s particularly the case this evening because each semi was won by singers whilst the other qualifying acts do something else. It would be surprising if tonight’s running order gave us all the non-singing acts in the first six slots followed by all the singers.

We’re thus left guessing at Cowell’s intentions, which is crucial given his ability to usually get the result he wants.

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BGT 2014: Semi-finalists revealed

Tonight’s last audition show moved quickly onto the panel deciding who was through to the semi-finals – the first and most historically important of which is tomorrow (as the graphs towards the end of this article indicate).

On the official list is Paddy & Nico, despite reports of an injury to the 79-year-old dancer. Lucy Kay got tonight’s pimp slot in the reveal, complete with tears and a mother’s joy over the phone. But there was plenty of attention for the Callabro boys too. Let us know what you think the lay of the land is below.

Eurovision 2014: What changed?

Eurovision is an elusive beast. Just when you think you’ve got certain things sussed, the contest turns precedent on its head. The recent rule rethinks – reintroducing the jury vote from the 2009 final, and the full ranking system from 2013 – have accelerated the pace of change.

2014 proved it. Here are five paradigm-busting examples.

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Eurovision 2014 result

Congratulations to Austria’s Conchita Wurst, who wins the 59th Eurovision Song Contest, ahead of the Dutch act The Common Linnets and Sweden’s Sanna Nielsen. From a betting point-of-view, this was the third year in a row that the top three in the betting filled the first three places. The market was once again remarkably accurate by kick-off.

It took a while to get there, with juicy prices still available on Austria and The Netherlands when rehearsals started. I hope you too took advantage of the trading opportunities presented. It was a decent if far from record-breaking year for me, on a par with last year’s profit.

Full results can be obtained from eurovision.tv, where you can see that San Marino just squeezed out Portugal by one point for the final qualification spot in semi one, whilst Slovenia in tenth were more comfortably clear of eleventh-placed Lithuania in semi two. The full jury and televote results also give us plenty to mull over in due course. Your comments and insight are, as always, encouraged below.