BGT 2016: The Post-Mortem

Now that’s magic! BGT producers left punters bamboozled and confounded after Richard Jones won from trap two in the running order, like a rabbit being unexpectedly pulled from a hat. How did they do it? Was it even part of the trick? Were they expecting to pull out a bunch of flowers instead?

The fun started around 5pm when the running order must have leaked, as Richard started to drift – from around even-money during the day, he was as big as 20/1 after his performance – and Wayne Woodward, who would perform in the pimp slot, was backed in from around 16/1 to short-priced favourite. Congratulations to commenters Stoney and Joe, who read the runes correctly during the show, posting that they thought Richard would still pull off a win despite the early slot.

In a close result, Richard won with 16.7% of the vote, ahead of Wayne on 13.8% and Boogie Storm, who performed second-from-last, on 12.8%. That’s the lowest percentage a winner has scored on BGT, by some distance, although the free app voting will be having the effect of spreading around the votes more than in pre-2015 contests.

Sofabet commenters floated three main theories to make sense of a confusing evening:

1. Producers expected Richard to win from anywhere, so decided to mix it up a bit

Tim B: “My strong belief is that they were just trying to make the final more exciting and unpredictable by putting him on second.” Jess: “I don’t think they could have put him last. It would have been obvious that he was the winner.” Martin: “at times it felt like they’d read the comments here and done the exact opposite of what we all expected”.

Entertaining as it would be to imagine BGT producers cackling evilly as they imagine the effect of the running order on the Sofabet comments section, we – alas – probably aren’t so important in their lives. But it’s certainly reasonable to assume that they may see some value in putting a lid on conversations about how you need to get a late slot to win the show. If nothing else, it helps them manage any possible unhappiness in future years from acts who are told they’re performing early in the final: “Of course we’re not screwing you over, look at Richard Jones, he won from second”.

That said, as Boki commented, “When they asked the judges who will win, David didn’t have Richard in the top3 – sounds strange for someone tptb would like to win”. Alan added: “to suggest that they knew richard would win from an early slot doesnt seem right to me… If they thought he would win and were happy with that putting him second seems like a very strange choice.”

2. Producers were trying to get Richard beaten

HenryVIII, before the show, pointed out that The Sun were running with stories about Richard copying tricks from other magicians, and wondering if this might prompt a rethink: “It wasn’t just the trick Richard copied it was the whole presentation. This is considered very bad form… The point is Cowell as he is now getting flack for it.”

Sagand posted: “I wonder if they got cold feet on him after the trick stealing scandal blew up. Cowell comments were distancing calling the performance “appropriate” twice, none of the judges called for votes, called him a winner or mentioned the royal variety.” Dazzle: “They tried to get Wayne top of Richard but couldn’t”.

However, this explanation doesn’t feel quite right, either. If they wanted to get Richard beaten, they would surely have gone all out pimping another act to get them in front of him. As Tim B said, “If they had wanted Wayne to win, they would have praised him to the skies, but they didn’t.” Cowell’s comments to Wayne – “performance of your lifetime… I’m so glad you made it to the final… I have no idea what’s going to happen tonight” were a long way short of what you might expect from a full-on pimp slot pimping.

Pre-show second-favourite Beau, meanwhile, also got less-than-great treatment – as Coben said, “What on earth was going on with Beau? Horrendous arrangement of the song (her audition was leagues better) and an argument between the judges”.

Perhaps we’re forced, then, to conclude that…

3. They just didn’t care that much who won

Alan: “I think yet again this year shows that TPTB are much more relaxed about who wins than we give credit for. Plan A is making a good show with a cross section of acts. Getting a specific act to come first doesn’t really seem to be on their agenda at all.”

Or maybe we can add a fourth possibility, mixing in elements of all three of the above:

4. Last-minute chaos in the production team

Martin makes an excellent point: “The thing I don’t understand is that Richard’s act was the most pimp-slot worthy performance of the whole night.” Indeed: the whole show would have made much more sense if Richard’s patriotic, union flag-wrapped introduction of a 97-year-old war hero was the culmination of the evening’s events. It felt very odd as one of the hors d’oeuvres.

Presumably, the involvement of Fergus meant this routine must have been planned well in advance – as might other choices, such as Beau’s song arrangement. Is it possible that the original plan was to have Richard in the pimp slot, but at the last minute controversy gave them cold feet and caused them to shunt him up to an early slot – but then they simply didn’t have time to get their ducks in a row to settle on an alternative winner, so they just let the cards fall as they may?

This might help make sense of the odd feeling that, although Wayne was in the pimp slot, they couldn’t quite seem to bring themselves to go full-throated in support of having an okay version of ‘Feeling Good’, which has been done to death on these shows, as their tenth anniversary winner.

In truth, though, none of these explanations feels entirely satisfactory. Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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28 comments to BGT 2016: The Post-Mortem

  • Dazzle

    Maybe only fergus agreed to come on if he didn’t have to wait around all night. Having Richard on before 8 o’clock meant fergus would be on his way home by 8.30

  • Chris Bellis

    One thing is sure – they didn’t want another dog to win, despite it being a voters’ wild card choice. Instructive to see how they de-ramped the act.

    • Jessica Hamby

      My favourite deramping of the night was Craig. The messed with his background so it was more like a wurlitzer than a sunburst, they made the characters appear from the outside to insde (it was the other way around in his semi-final) and they had him do Gollum.

      No wonder he fluffed his lines, I bet he could feel himself dying on his feet from the first line. They only thing they missed was blowing tumbleweed across the stage.

  • …maybe Fergus said: ‘Saturday night? I’m watching the footie, not this tosh’ but relented and agreed to be on before the footie really got going.

  • stoney

    I like the theory about breaking the early running order mould best. Similar to Leicester winning the prem. Other managers can’t moan about not being given millions and millions to spend on order to win the league, acts can’t complain about running positions now someone has won it from the beginning of the show. I feel this was needed after 9 years of pimped winners.
    Not necessarily saying this was the intention just saying it’s great for the show moving forward.

  • Martin

    I think the only other alternative theory is that the producers pulled running order out of a hat and allowed the judges a bit of creative freedom when it came to comments. Most of the VTs seemed nice enough, and there were standing ovations all round. It was a much more relaxed show than usual, and even the hatchet jobs on Trip Hazard and Beau came across as light hearted.

    • stoney

      I had a feeling that balance was going up open the show. So I’m not sure about this. I also think that if they were doing random draws for running order they would have made an announcement and made a big deal of it as it’s been a bit of a talking point over the years.

  • Jessica Hamby

    It was interesting. The way the contortionist robot people and the acrobats were let go you would have thought there was a surfeit of talent but there were some pretty dreadful acts in the final. Even the winner mucked it up and it was Fergus and his dress uniform that won it.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I guess the lesson from this series is that you should never undeferestimate the power of a three-legged dog (or an old soldier).

  • tpfkar

    I didn’t watch it, but I wonder if they wanted to make it look open to get more votes? If it looks like a done deal (fix), the motivation to vote isn’t there and they’ll get less phone vote revenue. I think we’d need to know how much money they get from phone votes compared to advertising to know, but the low ratings might have made it more important to get people voting.

  • Coben

    Haven’t watched the whole final, but how did they de-ramp Trip? I saw almost nothing but positiveness in the performance and comments. They gave them an ad break afterward as well, rather than memory holing them. There was colour vomit but I’m inclined to think it matters less for that sort of act. Craig, on the other hand, still incorporates singing into his act, and I did notice his staging being much more damaging this time.

    I think the fourth theory is correct. The sheer logistics of getting Fergus involved (getting him to agree, timings etc) meant that that act must have been planned well in advance. With the night being so patriotic overall that act would have been perfect in the pimp slot but I can believe they panicked upon reading the “stealing” stuff, shoved him on early and didn’t have time to switch horses. I don’t think they wanted to overpraise Wayne after that performance – Simon saying “I have no idea what’s going to happen” was probably the next best option to nobble the pre-show favourite.

    Beau won her semi-final by the next highest margin to Richard, not Wayne. If they wanted to get someone above Richard it would have made more sense to stick Beau in the pimp slot singing something from Les Mis (or even the arrangement of Defying Gravity from her audition). Though she only won her semi with 29% and it was easily the weakest semi of the week so perhaps they didn’t think her vote was strong enough. Alternatively they could have taken a punt on getting Jasmine above Richard. Seeing the vote totals and in terms of pure talent I don’t know why they went with Wayne.

    • Chris Bellis

      Hi Coben I thought they de-ramped the dog act in a number of subtle and not so subtle ways. Running order not favourable, sarky comments, lighting, make-up, cracks about dog doubles not being allowed. In my household we heard a number of negatives, but then we had money on the dog (not a lot). Just a matter of opinion, but if you re-watch it you may see what I mean. I think the dog did very well in the circumstances.

  • Martin

    Looking at the voting statistics and the overall treatment of him, I don’t think they did go with Wayne. whether it was a running order shuffle at the last minute, or an attempt to dispel the myth of the pimp slot, it seems they just went lukewarm on everyone. They paired up Jasmine and Beau in the running order, and dampened Beau with the distractions. Wayne didn’t run away with it as we thought, and Feeling Good isn’t an iconic swing song – if they wanted to run with him, we’d have seen him doing New York New York or Mack the Knife.

    Any order shuffling may not have been down to Fergus – Richard has just tweeted a picture of Fergus’ reaction shot to him winning, which looks as if he and several others were watching back stage.

  • stoney

    Just re watched the 10 year tribute performance from last night. Forgot just how good it was. Ashley Banjo done such a good job with that. The only person missing was Paul Potts, first ever winner. Weird that he wasn’t here. I’m guessing Jai Mcdowels phone didn’t ring.

  • stoney

    Also baring in mind that 99% of the singers that sing on the show are singing songs that they didn’t write I don’t get the problem with a magician doing a trick that he didn’t invent. After all its how he executes it that matters, unless of course he is claiming he had created the trick.

  • Black n Blue

    Is anyone here taking a stab at Euro 2016? I haven’t gambled on a major football tournament before but I feel I have a good grasp of the sport, and there looks to be a lot of value in the exchange markets.

    • Chris Bellis

      I’ve won quite a bit betting against England over the years!

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Am finding it difficult to narrow down my selections at the moment. Am also waiting for the round of pre-tourney friendlies to finish and for the squads to be confirmed before placing the definite bets that I do have in mind.

  • Dazzle

    Watching Richards performance again, anyone else notice that when richard revealed the picture on the cards they were in the wrong order he had to put them in the correct order.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I thought the whole act was a mess. Someone else mentioned his fumble when he reached for his lighter and tried to dump the card he’d switched and torn up. It was the shameless exploitation of sentiment that won it for him. Essentially he used the old soldier (Fergus?) like a three-legged dog.

      Jamie Raven’s rip and restore of the newspaper in the 10 year celebration sequence made Richard look like the amateur he is imo, but with the possible exception of Jasmine none of the acts really stood out to me.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Louis, Sharon and Nicole back as judges for the x factor.

  • DannyCraig

    Is 6 seat challenge earlier this year? Being filmed early July at Wembley. Tickets available still on applause store. Auditions no longer in front of a live audience – maybe too many people knew about Louisa before it started?

  • Stoney

    Just got back from holiday catching up on bgt that i missed. No threads yet guys?

    • Stoney

      Just skimmed though it. If I was going to lay down money on the outright at this point id be backing the choir. The backstory is a big vote winner for them. The golden buzzer act was well ott. The over singing of the song was annoying me.

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