BGT moves into the live semi-finals stage tonight, a day earlier than usual. The semi-finals run from Sunday to Thursday, then Friday is a BGT-free evening before the final in its usual position on Saturday.
The only act in last night’s final audition show to make a ripple in the market were Aquabatique, who dragged the judges and audience outside for their synchronised swimming act. Which poses some interesting logistical questions: How will they manage that during the live semi? If they win, will the Queen have to traipse into the car park during the Royal Variety Show to see them?
And could they be taken on the BGT tour? In the comments to our last post, Steve raises the tour – on which all the finalists customarily go – as a reason to wonder if 200-strong choir (and 12/1 third-favourites) Only Boys Aloud might not be pushed too hard in their semi; the Travelodge bill might dwarf the ticket sales. Similar concerns surely apply to Aquabatique.
Of course, BGT aren’t daft – it is nowhere written in stone that all the finalists will go on the tour. Still, it would be surely be embarrassing for them to have the winner not appear on the tour, which suggests we might be unwise to expect producers to go all out to show favourable treatment to acts for whom the tour might be logistically difficult.
Which brings us to the running order. It seems that every year on Sofabet we publish the same article about Britain’s Got Talent and the running order in the live shows. But then, if the show itself is unashamedly formulaic, it’s no surprise if our analysis of it ends up following suit.
Before the 2011 live shows we updated our 2010 discussion of how much depends on running order. The reason it’s so important in BGT, we presume, is that the live semi is only the second time viewers have seen an act, so there has not been much chance for them to develop loyalties, maximising the fresh-in-the-mind effect of performing late.
So, was our warning about the running order borne out once again in the 2011 live shows? Surprise, surprise – yes.
As wikipedia reminds us, in Monday’s semi, Ronan Parke performed 8/8 and won. The second and third placed acts performed 4/8 and 7/8 respectively. Tuesday’s 1-2-3 performed 5/8, 6/8 and 7/8. Wednesday’s 6/8, 7/8 and 8/8. Thursday’s also 6/8, 7/8 and 8/8. And Friday’s 9/9, 8/9 and 2/9.
Let’s put that another way. Across the five semis in 2011, only one act who sang either last or second-last failed to make it to the top three of the public vote. And only two acts made it to the top three of the public vote having sung in the first half of the show.
Last year we did a pretty graph showing how the BGT semi final running order related to 1-2-3 placings over all the previous series. Here’s how that graph looks after being updated with last year’s results:
(For the sake of convenience, we’re cheating a little and counting 8/9 and 9/9 in last year’s sole nine-act semi as 7/8 and 8/8 for the purposes of this graph, to fit in with all the other semis so far having been eight-act. Judging by the selection of 45 acts, for the first time, all of this year’s semis are nine-act, which is irritating for cumulative graphing purposes but doesn’t change the basic lesson that it helps to go late).
How about the final? Last year’s was won from slot 8/10 by Jai McDowell. Runner-up Ronan Parke came from 6/10, and third-placed New Bounce from the pimp slot, 10/10. And here’s the updated finals graph:
(This covers the last four finals, excluding series 1 which had only six acts in it. The winner of which, incidentally, sang 6/6 and the second-placed act 5/6).
There’s another potentially interesting pattern about the running order which we pointed out last year – performing last in the first semi-final has so far correlated with a top-two placing in the final (eventual winner Paul Potts in series 1, eventual runner-up Signature in series 2, eventual runner-up Susan Boyle in series 3, eventual winner Spelbound in series 4, and eventual runner-up Ronan Parke in series 5).
Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. It does make some dramatic sense for the show to bestow the pimp slot in the first semi-final upon a water-cooler act, in the hope of hooking in viewers for the four remaining semis.
So if you agree with Sofabet commenter Tim B that Ashleigh and Pudsey are the standout each-way bet, you might want to get on them before tonight’s semi-final, in which they appear to be the act most likely to be pimped. (They are currently longest priced at 12/1 in the win market with Sportingbet at the time of writing; the Betfair markets for winning and qualifying from the first semi are also now open).
Punters seeking a bit of each-way value might also be tempted to wonder if the show’s making a big thing last night about Ryan O’Shaughnessy getting out of his contract with The Voice because he felt BGT gave him more artistic freedom – something which Sofabet commenter R picked up on – might herald some pimping coming his way. If you’re tempted, Sportingbet currently have the longest each-way price on him at 18/1.
As we always warn with BGT, though, betting before knowing the running order is effectively in large part betting on who you think producers will be setting out to help. The consensus of Sofabet commenters after our last post on BGT is that producers have no obvious reason to look beyond Charlotte and Jonathan as their preferred winner.
Are you seeing any reason to doubt that the popera pairing will get the biggest helping hand? Do please let us know below what you’re expecting, and also use this thread to let us know your reactions as the semi final week progresses.