X Factor 2013 Judges’ Houses Part 1: Casting Ouch

Do we really need to see those “welcome home” parties for rejected contestants? To get the family reaction shots, how do producers stop the contestants calling home in advance? Do they confiscate their mobiles and assign security to prevent them from sneaking off to find a payphone or a web cafe? Is it ethical to insist on filming as a parent breaks difficult news to their small child?

What’s to stop a contestant, after receiving a “no”, saying “you know what, I’m off to phone my wife, I don’t care if it puts me in breach of contract”? What practical hold do producers still have over them? “Play nice and you might still get a wildcard”?

Why not take the product placement opportunity of having the contestants break the news to their families using video calling on a Samsung tablet?

Such puzzles aside, last night was very much the Sam Bailey and Nicholas McDonald Show. It’s hard to remember the last time we had two such unbalanced categories. In the overs we have:

  • the much-pimped Sam Bailey;
  • a big-voiced black girl whose audition they didn’t bother to show us, and who looks set to be competing in an overcrowded big-voiced black girl niche;
  • the overs equivalent of Komedy Kimberley from Sharon Osborne’s last run on this show in 2007.

In the boys, we have:

  • the much-pimped Nicholas McDonald;
  • a mediocre singer who looks good with his shirt off;
  • a mediocre singer who, um, doesn’t wash his hair.

We confess, these casting decisions puzzle us. Of course they need some shock! controversy! for judges’ houses, but they also need ratings for the live shows. Why do they feel the need for Lorna if they already have Hannah and Tamera? Wouldn’t the prospect of Joseph in the live shows have pulled in more viewers?

In the boys, we’re struggling to understand what they think Luke will bring to the party. While it’s true that Sam hasn’t got much screentime so far, he is obviously there for the visuals. But as for Luke, since a reasonably lengthy room audition edit back in show 1, producers have shown little interest in giving viewers a reason to care about him.

There is an obvious reason for Joseph’s omission and Luke’s and Sam’s lack of audition screentime – that they are desperate for a female winner. But that obvious theory continues to have an awkward Nicholas McDonald-shaped hole in it. Once again, last night producers could not have done more to help Wee Nic.

As HenryVIII put it in the comments to our article speculating about whether or not we might see a twist: “if they don’t have a wildcard it means they are so desperate to get their chosen ones home that they’ve completely given up on making a decent program”.

So are we in line for a twist, a scorched-earth policy in favour of Tamera, or something different entirely? How do you read what producers are thinking? As ever, do let us know below.

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