Britain’s Got Talent 2011 Semi Final Week Preview

Punters betting on BGT were thrown a curveball last night with the non-appearance of the outright favourite for the competition. It had been widely trailed that 12-year-old Liverpudlian Taylor Fowlis wowed at her audition, and going into yesterday’s final audition show she headed most bookmakers’ lists. But her audition wasn’t even shown, and she isn’t among the 40 semi-finalists.

It was the same story with Arisxandra Libantino. Reports of the nine-year-old’s audition had seen her backed in to single figure odds, with punters anticipating she would be among the last batch of auditionees to be shown. She wasn’t.

Presumably in each case the show’s producers must have discovered some reason why they felt it unwise to put these acts through to the live semis. Having made such a choice, it would clearly make more sense to can an impressive audition entirely than to screen it and then have to explain why the act didn’t make the cut.

This goes to highlight the perils of betting on these events before the runners and riders are confirmed. But where does it all leave punters going into this week of live semi-finals?

In our last article we said we thought producers were shaping up to pitch for a child singer to win it this year. All the child singer eggs would now appear to be in the basket of the new favourite, Ronan Parke.

We still reckon this is the producers’ Plan A, as Ronan Parke has been announced as part of the line-up for tonight’s first semi-final. We pointed out in a previous article that in the four seasons of BGT so far, the acts which sang last in the first semi-final have gone on to get a great result in the final – two wins and two second places.

In three of those four series, the act that closed the first semi-final also went on to close the final. The exception is Susan Boyle, and that’s an exception of the proves-the-rule variety – as we argued, it makes sense for producers to put their most-talked-about act on last in the first semi.

If you buy that theory, then there is a case for getting on Ronan Parke in the outright winner market now (at the time of writing he is top-priced at 11/4 with Boylesports). Of course, we don’t know the running order for tonight’s semi, but Parke is by far the highest-profile of tonight’s acts. It would therefore be a major surprise to us if he appears anywhere other than in the pimp slot.

If he performs well – and assuming we can rely on the returning Simon Cowell to deliver the appropriate hyperbole – he could well end up a significantly shorter price as a result.

As far as we can see, lineups for the other semis have not yet been confirmed, although interestingly the BGT series 5 wikipedia page does assign each semi-finalist to a semi.

If that listing proves correct [Edit: it didn’t; see comments thread below], the “group of death” would appear to be Tuesday’s semi. Not only are two of the top four in the betting – Razy Gogonea and Michael Collings – slated to go head-to-head, they are up against several other contenders who have attracted some support in the outright market: junior boyband New Bounce (14/1), comedy singer Edward Reid (25/1), impressionist Les Gibson (33/1) and Oxford acapella group Out of the Blue (40/1).

In contrast, none of the semi-finalists Wikipedia has lined up for Wednesday’s heat figure at less than 45/1 in the outright market.

Whoever makes it through on Tuesday is thus likely to be in a strong position to challenge Ronan Parke in the final. Not only will they have come through the most competitive semi, there is also guaranteed to be some memorably heightened emotion at the end of the night as the judges agonise over which act to send home (remember the format is that the winner goes through, and the judges choose another finalist from the second and third).

Circus of Horrors and ballet dancing James Hobley will be strong favourites to make it through on Thursday if the listing on Wikipedia is correct, while 6/1 third favourite Jai McDowall should easily get out of Friday’s heat. But supporters of the hot Scot with the trembling knees might want to recall that the acts emerging from Friday’s semi don’t have a great record in Saturday’s final.

Last year the Friday heat was won by Kieran Gaffney, who finished third overall. The year before it was Aidan Davis, who was unplaced in the final. And in season two the last semi winner was Escala, who went on to finish a disappointing fourth in the final from a great late draw. Perhaps the problem for the Friday semi-finalists is that too many people have made their minds up by then?

Anyone betting on the semis themselves should, of course, bear in mind the huge importance of the running order in these heats. Parke is currently top-priced 1/4 with William Hill to win tonight’s semi-final, on which Betfair have also just opened a market (the Betfair outright winner market is also now up).

What are your thoughts about how the contest is shaping up? Do use the comments box below to let us know – and to discuss the semi results as the week progresses, ahead of our post previewing the final on Saturday.

26 comments to Britain’s Got Talent 2011 Semi Final Week Preview

  • Rob

    Agreed RP is plan A, and putting RG and MC into an SF together confirms this as it’s a chance to get rid of one of the main contenders.

    would love to know what was behind the ditching of the other child singers?

    • Andrew

      I would love to know that too.

      Who do you think they’ll be looking to lose on Tuesday? New Bounce would appear to be the act most likely to eat into Ronan Parke’s voting demographic in the final, if that is indeed the way they’re thinking.

  • annie

    What’s interasting is that I’m sure they decide which act goes which day before most auditions are aired and the response of the audience is known.(surely for organizing everything they need to set that weeks before the actual semi finals).
    maybe they expected some acts from wednesday to be more crowd pleaser and are surprised by the good reaction to some from tuesday’s semi final.

    • Andrew

      Do you think so Annie? They must have to decide on the 40 well in advance, but you would think there’d be some last-minute logistical wiggle room to shuffle who appears on which day. It would be interesting to know.

      • annie

        I’m sure there is room for some changes if necessary , but with 40 acts to sort out, quite a few things to set up for each night i’m positive they can’t wait for the auditions to end to consider public reaction and sort out the line-up for the week. yes, maybe in theory it’s possible, but i don’t think it’s worth for them all the mess it would cause leaving it to last minute.

  • Nick D.

    You’ve already gone into some depth about the importance of running order, but the Saturday night TV schedules look like they’re going to make it more important than ever.

    On the one hand, ITV have put together a killer line-up of untimeshiftable TV, with the England football international leading straight into the BGT final in an attempt to keep the audience.

    On the other hand, the Doctor Who midseason finale throws in a curveball, kicking off almost exactly on the final whistle of the football and running until 35 minutes into BGT. If that steals a significant audience share, as seems likely, then it could be the final nail in the coffin for three, perhaps four acts at the start of the show.

    Unless… unless… unless the producers accordingly decide that they HAVE to throw one of their biggest guns into slot 1 to retain the audience…?

    How do you see this being handled?

    • Andrew

      That’s a fantastic spot.

      In the X Factor there’s sometimes an overlap with Strictly and the likely response is to hang one of the expendable acts out to dry (viz Storm Lee Gardner last year).

      Thing is, anyone who’s already turned over to Doctor Who isn’t going to know who’s in slot 1. So if they want to retain the audience, they’d have to find a way of saying, during the football, “stay tuned because XXXX is opening the show in 20 minutes time”. I suppose it’s not impossible but it would be a bit clumsy.

      So I suspect they’ll probably just stick some expendable acts on first, and maybe try to make sure there’s a big gun on when people are turning over after Doctor Who. Of course, if there’s a big gun who they don’t want winning, a show-opening slot could kill two birds with one stone…

      What do you reckon?

  • Tim

    I’m fairly certain that Ronan Parke will win, but do you have any good tips for an each way bet? Also don’t know if you have spotted but Ronan is one of the acts featured on the front page of the Radio Times this week.

    • Andrew

      Hi Tim, you were wise to be so confident about Ronan Parke last week and I hope you got on before the non-appearance of the other child singers almost halved his price.

      Trying to pick anything at long odds is so difficult at this stage as they’re so dependent on the draw to get out of the semis. Do you have your eyes on anyone?

  • Tim

    I was holding out for the child singers from Sunday night! But I got in at 3.25 on Ronan, which I’m pleased with. Went for an each way bet on Michael Collings as well as 12/1.

    Worried about Razy though. The extra audition ans screen time from Sunday night was a huge advantage. However, I’m still convinced that the public will vote for a foreign act to win Britain’s Got Talent, therefore I think Ronan is still the one.

  • Rob

    i’m on RP @3.75 also, but i’m not as confident he will win. the public don’t always do what the producers want in this comp! britain is notoriously unsentimental and there the things that make the act attractive are the things that will turn a lot of people off e.g. precociousness, cuteness, middle class background. he’s not that popyular on the net either – both MC and RG outscore him on views by a long way. imo the producers will have to pull out all the stops to ensure he wins, even losing MC or RG tonight. it’s the only reason i’m backing him. not because he’s popular, but because of the manipulation of the producers.

  • Justin

    Rob, I agree. RP is a genuine odds-on shot now but its not a given that the public will take to him. He has certainly got more than a little ‘stage school’ about him and note his parents’ heavy Norfolk accent – yet he has no such accent. Something doesn’t quite add up. I have taken the opportunity to lay off the whole of the bets I got on at 100/30 and 3/1 on Sunday evening to guarantee a profit.

    Anyone got any idea who is actually in the 2nd semi? Different Bookies seem to be offering bets on a different set of contestants!

  • Andrew

    Can’t argue with the hedge, Justin – I share your and Rob’s doubts for exactly the reasons mentioned. One interesting question is what RP will sing in the final – it’s customary for singers to reprise their audition, but can he do that after Cowell criticised the song choice?

    A lot may come down to how actively they set out to hobble his potential rivals. Which makes tonight’s lineup all the more intriguing – bookies have now converged on a list of second semi-finalists that bears no resemblance to the one that was on Wikipedia yesterday – no Michael Collings or Razy Gogonea. That list has now disappeared from wikipedia, and the Wed-Fri semis are all listed as TBA.

    So was this simply duff original information, or has there been a last-minute rethink? And if the latter, why? New Bounce would appear to be the big beneficiaries with a much better chance of making the final, and their outright odds have shrunk accordingly. Which is a bit puzzling, as they would also seem to be the act most likely to compete for RP’s voters.

    I do still harbour hopes for Michael Collings e/w, given he’s pretty much the polar opposite of RP in terms of precocious, cute, stage school etc. But obviously very much at the mercy of the semi draw and the running order, as well as those questions about what his semi song choice will be.

  • Rob

    Andrew, what are your views on New Bounce, who appear to be the new Plan A for the producers judging by the the praise heaped on them? Do you have a scenario in which you’d lay off RP?

  • Andrew

    Hi Rob, it’s hard to read, isn’t it? They could just be pimping New Bounce to make the final seem more exciting. But the confusion over yesterday’s lineup does make me wonder whether RP’s vote total on Monday might have been disappointing enough to activate plan B. Whatever that is – don’t forget they have another three nights to pimp other acts too.

    Personally my feeling is to lock in the profit on RP. Still entirely possible that he’ll get the pimp slot and huge praise on Saturday, but it’s looking less certain than it did on Monday.

  • annie

    And another question is-even though his eyes were sparkling of cash when he was looking at them-Would Simon like a young boyband to win, would he sign them, since it’s only been a couple of months since he bagged One Direction and is spending time money and effort on them, and they appeal to a similar demographic as One Bounce would. OneBounce worked well with the clever song choice and presentation, but as the audition showed they can be pretty average as well. they remind me a bit (although they are better, more cute and interesting) of the boyband from last year who were brilliant in the semi final with a song choice that worked for them but dull in the final.

  • tpfkar

    With the non-appearance of the previous favourites, I’m left wondering when in the auditions process the producers will show the acts they want to push. You can certainly see why you wouldn’t leave them too late, as there would be no time at all to talk about them.

    Might be betting opportunities in future, if the acts which are seen as favourites haven’t been shown by the next to last auditions, they either won’t be, or aren’t being pushed that hard.

    I wonder if looking at when the eventual winners are first shown will give us clues for the future.

  • Rob

    Andrew, what are your views on the re-introduction of Michael Moral. Will he get a sympathy bounce with a negative effect on Razy or perhaps the public will be entranced by the dance-off and forget to vote for Michael Collings?

  • Andrew

    Firstly, many thanks and many apologies to those of you who posted comments linking to the allegations referred to in this BBC story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-13632217

    For reasons that will be obvious from that BBC article, we thought it wise not to put them on the site.

    Secondly, on the subject of the re-introduction of Michael Moral into the semi-final, it once again shows what a master at generating headlines and controversy for his shows Simon Cowell is.

    It does make this semi that much more difficult. We will have to see how the running order and judges comments play out, but don’t forget only the public winner goes through automatically.

    If the public winner is one of those dancers, the judges may not be inclined to send the other one through with them (which would generate more controversy / publicity), giving a space for someone such as Michael Collings in the final instead.

  • Rob

    It’s a way for them to get more phone revenue tonight, Rob, I would suggest, knowing how cynical this show is. Also, it will enable them to torpedo one of them ahead of the final. And I would expect whichever one that progresses to then be killed off by an early slot, not to mention the historical disadvantage of getting through in the Friday semi anyway.
    You have to expect Michael to still get in the top 3, and then go through at the expense of one of the dancers. That said, we saw how easy it was for them to destroy Jessica’s chance last night, and the same sort of fate may await Michael. They probably don’t want too many singers in the final.

  • Andrew

    Indeed Rob. I do think there’s room for another singer in the final, though – they only have three so far (Ronan Parke, New Bounce and Jai McDowall) and they’ve had as many as five singing acts in the final before (in 2009).

    It has to be said, though, it doesn’t look like Collings would be heading into the final with too much of a head of steam. You would have to expect the Gogonea/Moral face-off to occupy the last couple of slots in the running order tonight, wouldn’t you?

  • Tim

    I think that the Gogonea/Moral face off will be easily won by Razy. I also think it’s a given that Michael Collings will be joining him in the final. There’s a chance he will be given the pimp slot after the dancers, but we’ll see. I just hope he’s not thrown under the bus like with the girl last night.

    • Andrew

      Hope you’re right, Tim. The other six acts tonight must certainly be getting that “under the bus” feeling, don’t you think?

  • Tim

    Yes, although I only just remembered the grandad rappers. Hope they’re not favoured tonight in the running order.

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