The X Factor betting fraternity has been wondering all week if there would be an unprecedented singoff among the last four this weekend. I was sceptical on yesterday’s Betsfactor podcast, but later in the day Luke Friend indicated in a tweet that there would be one. I won’t completely believe it until the words come out of Dermot O’Leary’s mouth.
If it happens, it’s probably good news for Rough Copy. Consistently pimped throughout the live shows, and namechecked as finalists for a month now, it seems more likely than not that they would be saved in a singoff against either Nicholas or Luke. It was no surprise to see them drift for elimination once Luke’s tweet had sunk in: at the time of going to press, there’s little opportunity to lay them on Betfair.
This leads to the question: is Nick within range or will it be Luke that is the semi-final sacrifice?
Luke’s two bottom two appearances, including last week following high praise from the panel, indicates that he is most in danger of another singoff appearance should one take place. But the big imponderable remains how well Nicholas’s vote is holding up after two weeks of rather bland performances, because my thinking, along with many of our commenters, is that Nicholas would be sent home in a duel with Luke.
It all makes for an intriguing if difficult semi-final, made moreso by mixed messages in the press and from the panel. Sam Bailey has been given the aura of a winner since Week 4, so why then was the “cruiseship” tag not only mentioned by Nicole last weekend but also included in both the opening Sunday montage and the reprise?
The Sun ran with the story of her alleged “diva demands” today. That’s a line that’s been used against acts before, notably Chris Maloney. Maybe it’s just for column inches this time around, if they’re scrabbling for angles to try to keep up interest in the press. But it does leave a nagging doubt that they may still yet try to pull her down – unlikely as it seems that they would want Nick to beat her, or that they could get either Rough Copy or Luke to do so if they wanted to.
It’s a puzzle. And much as one of our working assumptions about the show is that judges do as the production team want, it almost seemed last week as though the panel were pulling in different directions. Nicole used the “cruiseship” line, Louis said he wasn’t terribly impressed by Rough Copy’s vocals whilst Sharon mocked their styling, and Gary continued to question Nick’s “individuality”.
In the comments, Argenta Q asked “what do you make of the fighting in the panel? Louis and Sharon sounded mad as hell at Tamera and it doubled when Gary took it to deadlock, Nicole looked pissed when Tamera was voted off, and you can see Louis and Sharon looking mad at Gary after the results”. Usually we would dismiss this as scripted pantomime, but there did seem to be some genuine emotion on display.
Is it fanciful to wonder if there are cracks within the production team, reflecting themselves on the panel? The story in The Sun earlier in the week that bosses fear a boring final seemed to be stretching the maxim that all publicity is good publicity. The “source” quoted in that story as saying “Tamera was the last one to have any drama around her” perhaps indicates that not everybody backstage was on board with the decision to jettison her.
That’s in the past, but it will be fascinating to see what signals are sent out tonight, and whether there is still any sense that the judges may not be singing from the same hymn sheet.
With all this uncertainty, I’m not going to advise any tip before tonight’s show. Do let us know your continuing thoughts before and during the semi-final below.