As guessing producers’ intentions is such an integral part of predicting Simon Cowell shows, it’s always a worthwhile exercise to look back, with the percentages in hand, and try to reverse-engineer what they might have been thinking. And we reckon, looking at the semi-final results, that they must have concluded this: if Attraction were to win, Richard and Adam would have to be eggsterminated.
Admittedly, there is a good deal of guesswork involved given that we don’t know the raw vote totals for the semi-finals, only the percentages. (And all credit to ITV for this – it’s more than the BBC and EBU deign to tell us). And the quality of semi-final opposition would also impact the totals. But if we make a working assumption that a similar proportion of viewers vote each day, we can combine those percentages with the ratings to guesstimate how the votes were distributed across the semi-finals among the acts who would make up the final.
Here are the figures:
Richard and Adam 23.1%
Jack Carroll 13.0%
The Luminites 10.6%
Francine Lewis 7.0%
Gabz Gardiner 6.9%
Asanda Jezile 5.9%
Jordan O’Keefe 4.2%
Steve Hewlett 3.3%
The eggstermination of Richard and Adam began with the running order. Fourth-from-last is not a bad spot at all – George Sampson won from there. But it’s not as good as third-from-last, second-from-last or last, the slots given to the next three in the above list. As soon as it became clear that the order announced at the start of the show would be the running order, Richard and Adam started to drift on Betfair.
Then there was the song choice. It may make sense for an act whose audition provided a real “wow” moment to remind viewers of it in the final, but – competent though it was – that was hardly the case with ‘The Impossible Dream’. There must have been several potential choices of song we hadn’t heard from them before that could have created more impact.
Now consider the lighting. In the semi, the warm golden glow of success:
In the final, the feeling of a cold and rainy night:
They’re standing further apart, too, subtly conveying just a bit less brotherly togetherness. That turned out to be convenient: egg lady wouldn’t have fitted between them as easily if they’d been standing as they did in the semi.
Onto the comments. In the semi, they got Amanda gushing about how she felt “enormously patriotic, proud to be British” and envisaged them in “stadiums across the world representing our country”. In the final, Simon said “I don’t think you’re the best singers who sing this kind of music”, but, on the bright side, at least “you like each other”.
Were the eggs part of the eggstermination? That’s a fascinating question. It’s so easy to see conspiracy everywhere you look when analysing a Cowell show, you have to remind yourself that cock-ups happen, too – we can’t eggsclude the possibility that a jobbing musician simply decided unilaterally that it would be fun to lob eggs at Simon Cowell in front of 13 million people.
But the eggs smelled fishy to some in the Sofabet comments. While sceptical that it was staged, eurovicious notes: “in previous stage invasions I’ve seen the director cuts away to a different camera as soon as they realise what’s happening. Rewatching it, I’m struck that her emergence and throwing of the eggs were perfectly timed for the long shot where the camera zooms in from a wide view of the stage to a close-up on R&A – so she really became the focal point and the camera kept zooming in on her. It framed her perfectly. She didn’t look like the typical stage invader either, she was telegenically grinning while she did it.”
Cade adds: “Staging talked-about incidents during live events, then getting tons of press coverage the next day – ensures people are reminded to never miss out the next time.”
While some in the Sofabet comments felt that the egg-throwing might have helped Richard and Adam by prompting a sympathy vote, our instinct is that the reverse might just as easily have been true – the effect felt similar to the “diversionary argument” we often see in X Factor, when the judges bicker with each other over choreography or somesuch and the acts look like spare parts in what ought to be their big moment. Viewers who might otherwise have been turning to each other at the end of the performance and saying “those lads are good” were instead saying “what just happened?”
We have a genuinely open mind about the eggs factor. But it is noticeable that, as Chatterbox5200 points out in the comments, the post-show conversation was dominated by Cowell being egged rather than by controversy about Hungarians winning the show. As Don Draper would tell us, if you’re worried about what’s going to be said, pre-emptively change the conversation.
Moving onto the winners, and at the time we thought Attraction’s patriotic routine was so transparently cynical an exercise in sucking up, and so much less affecting than their previous routines, we even wondered if it was an attempt to nobble them. Commenters had similar thoughts, eurovicious calling it “jingoistic claptrap”, Chatterbox saying it “seemed rather too false” and Kevin wondering “Attraction are mercenaries, is that what is coming across to Joe Public?”
Attraction promptly drifted out from 1/3 to evens, but in hindsight this was perhaps one of those cases where we in the TV betting community were ill-served by our tendency to think meta. It may be that voters saw it at face value, as a tribute to the wonderfulness of Britain, because if you compare the final results with our guesstimates from the semi then you’ll see that Attraction did significantly better:
Attraction 27.0% (+65% of semi)
Jack Carroll 20.1% (+54% of semi)
Richard & Adam 15.4% (-33% of semi)
On reflection we tend to agree with HenryVIII, who argued in the comments that when Cowell was pictured pulling a Jai McDowell face on hearing the result it was only because “He’s mindful of the non British winner criticism”. Roach added that if producers had been trying to get Jack to win, they wouldn’t have put Attraction on last or given the wildcard to Steve Hewlett. Indeed.
We’ve found this a tricky BGT, having misjudged from the start producers’ willingness to push a non-British winner, and we were relieved in the end that the sandwich-makers brought home the bacon, lettuce and tomato by hanging on for third. We feel like we’ve got closure on it now, though. Care to revise our version of history? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.