BGT 2017: The Post-Mortem

The pimp slot act wins. The market’s correct. Cowell is smiling. All’s right with the world. Unlike last year, when our BGT post-mortem assessed head-scratching in the Sofabet comments about what producers had been trying to achieve when magician Richard Jones won from slot 2 in the running order, this year it was very much a case of normal service resumed.

Pre-show joint-favourite Tokio Myers, backed in to odds-on after the performances, won from last place in the running order. Issy Simpson, pre-show third-favourite after a market move during the day, performed second from last and finished second. The other pre-show joint-favourite, Daliso Chaponda, drifted in the betting after underwhelming from the third-from-last position, and finished third.

It was clearly the result Cowell expected and wanted. In his VT, the likeable Tokio was filmed expressing a desire to perform with musicians from Skepta to Ed Sheeran – and presumably the thought of such collaborations had dollar signs flashing before Cowell’s eyes. It’s also good for the BGT brand to have a different kind of winner with some potential post-show shelf life.

Clearly producers were happy for Issy to be on the podium, given that they gave her the penultimate slot and a routine featuring confetti and a cute younger brother. But Cowell seemed keen to keep a lid on her chances of actually winning the thing, subtly puncturing the mood by mock-admonishing Amanda for expressing the belief that Issy would win.

Cowell then noted: “We didn’t rehearse that”. We wondered if this was the old “don’t think of an elephant” technique – given that Issy’s entire act could adequately be explained by her knowing in advance what card Cowell was going to say, planting the thought that they might have rehearsed it was hardly going to be helpful.

The voting statistics are a reminder of how much it can help to get a late slot and positive treatment in the final. In his semi, Tokio got roughly double the vote of both Ned Woodman and Sarah Ikumu – in the final, that gap increased to a factor of almost five over Sarah and eight over Ned, whose final performance suffered from nerves.

Issy only just beat Matt Edwards in her semi, which is presumably why producers didn’t expect her favourable treatment and late slot to be enough to propel her to win – but it was enough to get her more than doubling Matt’s final vote. Of the other qualifiers, their relative votes in the final fairly closely tracked those of the semis, although DNA’s subpar final performance saw them slip behind Kyle Tomlinson.

After a puzzling 2016 for Syco shows – as well as the aforementioned debate over Richard Jones, the Sofabet comment section was divided on whether Matt Terry’s X Factor win was a plan, a cock-up or an indication that they’re just getting so jaded with putting on the same old nonsense every year that they’re past caring who wins – it bodes well for this autumn’s X Factor to see evidence that they had a clearly preferred winner and used time-honoured tactics to get the job done. As always, do keep your continued thoughts coming below.

3 comments to BGT 2017: The Post-Mortem

  • Alan

    Cant argue with any of that. I didnt catch a huge amount of this year’s semis and final but the little I did see gave me the impression that they were leaving the public in little doubt as to who they should put through.

    We can analyse staging, running order and mind games all we like but for me judges comments remain the most obvious way of steering the public towards making the “correct” choices.

    Generally speaking the public played ball although it is interesting that Cowell has reportedly said that they will go back to the judges votes in the semis next year. Maybe he was miffed that his golden buzzer act needed the wildcard to make the final. Or perhaps he realised that some of the staged drama was missing this year.

    Personally Im looking forward to the manipulation being ramped up in XFactor this series. It’s the only thing that makes it worth watching.

  • markovs

    Nothing makes XFactor worth watching. Tired, boring and produced no talent in years. Time to come to an end imo

  • 360

    Looking forward to X Factor this year. Can’t really think of what kind of act they’d like to win, given what they currently have on their roster and are still pushing.

    5AM will be pushed until they drop so they have boybands covered for the next while.

    Louisa Johnson is still getting all the help under the sun to become ‘a thing’.

    Matt Terry is ready to launch at some point as a potential successor for Olly Murs, or whatever direction they decide to pursue with him.

    I’d expect them to avoid Overs after their overexposure in the last few years.

    Little Mix are UK’s premier girl group now so I wouldn’t expect them to support a group that could be competition.

    So right now my bet would be on them going for a likeable big-voiced and versatile black girl to fill the Leona-and-Alexandra-shaped hole. Only caveat is that might conflict with Fleur East if she gets a second wind.

    Alternatively; they might go for a Rylan/Stacey Solomon-like type who would be a sob story/sympathy feelgood winner, but would use the platform to diversify into TV presenting or something, so they don’t have to run the risk of pouring money into a music career which then struggles to make it back, given the changing landscape of music consumption these days.

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