Betting on the next elimination gives punters fresh opportunities with each round of live shows. This was where I made the lion’s share of my profits on last year’s X Factor, and I’m hoping that’s the case again, especially given the tricky nature of this year’s win market. However, there are reasons to keep stakes small during the earlier rounds.
Firstly, at this point in time with viewers less motivated to dial, there’s quite a bit of deadwood competing for a small number of votes. Andrew provided a guesstimate of 1200 calls separating safety from elimination in the first public vote last year. Secondly, in later rounds the contestants’ capabilities, public opinion and producers’ intentions are better known. Regarding those intentions, committing before the show means you are effectively guessing what programme makers have in mind. All could change when we see who are the first two or three to sing.
But despite these caveats, we can draw an obvious but useful conclusion from previous years’ voting figures: those who finished at the bottom of the public vote in the first week and survived also lagged in the second week. The correlation is even stronger when exceptional circumstances like the sympathy bounce are taken into account. There was no phone poll last week, which means no sympathy bounce either, so we just need to assess which surviving acts would have done least well in a public vote to judge who will struggle this week.
The question is: who do we think they are?
My idea of a possible bottom four among the surviving acts were Nu Vibe, Rhythmix, Kitty and Johnny. I will start with Nu Vibe, having already explained how negative their coverage was last week. It seems to have hit home: of the remaining acts, the young boyband come at or near the bottom in every poll or survey of social media activity I have seen. If producers were hoping to create an amazing turnaround this week, they have given themselves a very difficult task.
I am more inclined to believe that Nu Vibe are lambs to the slaughter in Week 2. Most telling will be their place in the running order: a slot in the Strictly Come Dancing overlap zone towards the start of the show would be confirmation that they have little support from producers. The overlap is 30 minutes this week; last week it was 35 minutes, so that viewers switching over got the VT introduction for the fourth act, Frankie. This means the first two acts will be worst affected, the third entrant to perform at least partly so. In a similar situation in last year’s second live show, the first contestant on was Storm Lee, who finished bottom of the phone vote.
The boys have extra reason to worry because I believe that if they do face a sing-off, producers would rather lose them against some of their potential rivals, notably Rhythmix and Kitty Brucknell, who are the next most likely evictees according to bookmakers’ lists. I would not be surprised for either of these acts to have been towards the bottom if there had been a public vote last week, because it’s very difficult for girlbands to gain traction in the competition and Kitty is perceived to be the least sympathetic personality remaining.
Despite this, there was plenty of positive coverage for both these acts in week one. Rhythmix were given high praise by the judges, whilst Kitty was given the penultimate slot in the running order. It’s worth reiterating why producers are keen to see both acts stay in the competition: Rhythmix are the sole girlband and continue to offer the best opportunity for Frankie Cocozza’s attentions; meanwhile Kitty Brucknell is the only contestant consistently generating tabloid headlines. Her reported song choice for this week of Bjork’s ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ screams big production. On this basis, I cannot back either to be eliminated.
The other contenders for elimination in bookmakers’ lists are Sami Brookes and Johnny Robinson, and I’m not as sure either would be saved in a sing-off as they strike me as relatively expendable. We also have to assume that Kitty will be last of the overs to sing, which means one of Johnny or Sami have a 50-75% chance of being in the Strictly overlap zone. Johnny in particular, seems the best hope for fans of Nu Vibe who want to see them survive another week.
This is becuase I think Johnny is likely to have finished lower than Sami last week had there been a public vote, which puts him in more trouble according to my theory of correlation. He had a very poor slot in the running order and performed a rather cringe-inducing rendition of ‘Believe’ in sunglasses. Despite the fact that he’s a sympathetic character who gives good VT with snappy one-liners, it was not a display of faith in him by producers. I think he’s highly vulnerable and at much better odds than you can get on Nu Vibe. Our commenters Simon and Ronnie agree.
Sami is doing relatively well in polls and social media activity. It’s worth bearing in mind that the no-longer-so-young trooper, such as Mary Byrne and Daniel Evans, can punch above their weight in early weeks. Sami also has the regional vote behind her too if the Welsh are not too busy drowning their sorrows after today’s rugby. This might see her safely through this week at least, although it would help if she’s not in the Strictly overlap zone. About song choice, Dug suggested,”If they give her anything as karaoke as ‘Free’ for a second week running then she’s a gonner. If they give her a nice Mary Byrne number she’ll be safe.”
You can get much bigger odds on any of those in the boys or girls category leaving this weekend. The bookmakers rightly indicate that it would be a major surprise if Janet, Craig or Misha went this weekend. These three most probably occupied the highest places if a public vote had taken place last week so should be very safe. I think other boyband The Risk, Frankie, Marcus and Sophie were more likely to be mid-table in my hypothetical week one poll. We know producers will not want to lose Frankie, who I reckon is likely to be pimped heavily tonight.
Whilst Marcus, who topped our initial prediction, was rather unspectacular last week, I think his general profile on the show continues to be favourable enough to see him safe this week. My greater fear among the young soloists is for Sophie, not based on vocal merit, but on her relative anonymity so far. This is something I expanded upon yesterday. If she was put on early in the Strictly overlap zone, it would send a message that producers are not doing enough to help her, and current odds of 22-1 to be next eliminated would probably shorten.
Ultimately, I have to return to my theory that the likely elimination will come from those who would have done least well in a phone vote last week, and who producers are not looking to save. For me, the two that stand out against the field are Nu Vibe and Johnny Robinson. A general 2-1 is a relatively skinny price for Nu Vibe, though if they are sent on early, it would look generous by seeming to confirm that producers have no interest in keeping them around. The 8-1 available for Johnny Robinson with Coral seems better value, and this means he just gets the nod as our recommendation. Do remember, however, my words of caution about keeping stakes small at this stage.
Which acts do you think are in the most trouble this week? Do let us know below.