CBB 2017 Discussion Thread

A happy new year to all Sofabettors. Tonight sees Celebrity Big Brother 2017 start on Channel 5. The line-up is yet to be confirmed at the time of posting. For those who are tuning in, please feel free to use this as a discussion thread.

X Factor 2016 Voting Stats: Was Matt Terry an Accidental Winner?

It turned into a frustrating season of X Factor: from about week 7, it’s felt difficult to read producers’ intentions. The market swings during last night’s show were unprecedented. And even now, with the stats to hand, it’s hard to be sure what producers intended to achieve over the final weekend. Broadly, two schools of thought have been advanced in the Sofabet comments.


Continue reading X Factor 2016 Voting Stats: Was Matt Terry an Accidental Winner?

Matt Terry Wins The X Factor 2016

Producers, you win: if the aim of the last couple of weeks has been to keep punters guessing, you managed it right up to the moment of the reveal. Saara and Matt repeatedly traded places at the head of the market throughout the Sunday show, even though Dermot never mentioned the vote being close, as he surely would have done if it had been. Several astute observers in the Sofabet comments section were sure Saara was way ahead, others were confident that Matt had it in the bag.


We’ve joked before about the comments to the winner’s single usually making it obvious what’s about to be released but this year – oddly – the final performance wasn’t the winner’s single, which meant Louis couldn’t helpfully observe “that sounds like a number one hit record”. Matt came into favouritism again after his song, then Saara after hers, then Matt again, then Saara, then Matt. It was insane – I’ve never seen anything like it. When the vote closed, Matt was trading at 1.66 and Saara at 2.48.

It’s not been a good series for me financially – I’ve ended up down on the outright this year, frustratingly so as I’d had a very healthy-looking book up to about three weeks ago. Now the wait begins for the highlight of the Sofabet X Factor year – the voting statistics. These normally pop up on xfactor.itv.com at some point during the evening, sometimes quickly, sometimes late [update: see them here]. We’ll digest them and post a review in due course. In the meantime, do commence the post-mortem in the comments below.

X Factor 2016 Final: Matt? Finnish?

In this most unpredictable of years, is there room for one final twist? It would be the ultimate irony if the prize ended up, after all, going to the act who seemed like Plan A throughout the audition stages but hasn’t had a single pimp slot in the live shows and was, this time last week, being dismissed as bland and compared to a butterless sandwich. Matt is now favourite on Betfair again.


Matt was never going to win the battle of the homecoming VTs, with both Dermot and Simon calling attention to how that they’d never seen anything like Saara’s Helsinki welcome on the X Factor before – Matt’s Bromley homecoming VT was perfectly fine, with respectable crowds and the requisite familial tears, but the 10,000 people in Helsinki looked as stunning as expected.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the night, though, was how Nicole introduced Matt – “England, it’s your very own” – and how she pointedly said, in her comments to his first song, and making sure that she found the camera as she did so, “England, please get behind your very own”. If producers were on board with a Saara win, it’s surprising that was allowed to happen.

Continue reading X Factor 2016 Final: Matt? Finnish?

X Factor 2016 Final Preview: A Finn-Win Situation?

The X Factor final arrives on the back of a topsy-turvy few weeks. Unlike last year’s highly predictable final, it’s possible to make a case for any permutation this weekend. As always, watching the show will be vital in assessing producers’ hopes and the reality of the phone vote. Whilst judges comments tend to avoid any negativity, there have been some clear staging clues over the years, from the mess of Nick McDonald’s ‘Candy’ to Marcus Collins’ lonely ‘Last Christmas’.


We don’t rule anything out this weekend, but there will be many more voters and votes cast this weekend, and the British sense of fair play tends to swing behind the most “deserving” winner. In terms of vocal and performing ability among the final three, that is Saara Aalto. Admittedly, Five After Midnight have the advantage of most producer favour based on semi-final evidence, and Matt Terry can claim to be the most Middle-England friendly finalist. But the Finn is the most likely to have won the quarter-final and semi-final phone vote, and producers may feel that her underdog “journey” – bouncing back from early singoff appearances to win over an initially sceptical British public – is a feelgood narrative they can reconcile themselves to.

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X Factor 2016: 5AM’s Journey – From Brotherly Spats to Backing Tracks

The act with the most positive overall treatment goes into this weekend’s climax as outsiders. 5 After Midnight have been namechecked as finalists more than anyone else, and received the most endorsements from stars guesting on the Sunday show. We’ve consistently been encouraged to emotionally connect with Jordan, Kieran and Nathan – and their families – more than we have with either Matt or Saara.


But their relative lack of support in the betting market reflects another inconvenient reality: their vocal capabilities have been under question from the beginning, with only frontman Kieran able to hold a solo of any significance. Just how noticeable that’s been is down to the backing track, which has occasionally drowned out the boys’ voices. There’s been no acknowledgement of that in the judges’ critique, but the public were unconvinced enough to put the trio in the bottom two in week 8.

Which makes it all the more amusing to look back at how they introduced themselves at auditions: “We all love the same type of music,” explains Kieran. “Those big vocals, vocal acrobatics.”

Continue reading X Factor 2016: 5AM’s Journey – From Brotherly Spats to Backing Tracks

X Factor 2016: Matt’s Journey – From Jilted Lover to Jilted Favourite

Matt’s journey feels like a mirror image of Saara’s in that he started out with nothing but praise and producer favour, yet approaches the final having endured some rough recent criticism, and a singoff save. It’s been a series of two halves for the Bromley lad. Picking himself up from a failed relationship, the first half saw him portrayed as a newly-available heart-throb with a glittering future.


But he goes into the final weekend wounded by Simon’s description of him as “bland” and “like a sandwich without butter”, that helped him drop into the bottom two for the first time last Sunday. Was this merely intended to make the final look as open as possible before returning the presumptive crown to his head, or a sign that he’s not so attractive to producers’ eyes any more? For the first time since the live shows began, the betting market dumped him as their favourite, replacing him with Saara.

Continue reading X Factor 2016: Matt’s Journey – From Jilted Lover to Jilted Favourite

X Factor 2016: Saara’s Journey – From “Abroad” To Adored

There’s an archetype of auditions on shows like this, in which an auditionee is initially portrayed as self-deluded or otherwise weird, but turns out to be vocally brilliant and wins everyone over. Saara did this not only in her audition, but over and over and over again. It’s been one of the most remarkable journeys in X Factor history for an act currently celebrating Finland’s Independence Day and planning to make the UK her adopted home.


And it’s all there, in microcosm, the first time we meet her. Our introduction to Saara initially portrays her as some kind of yokel from the Finnish boondocks with an annoying laugh, who is blissfully unaware of how she’s coming across to others. ‘Sleigh Ride’ strikes up in the background as she makes animated small talk about Santa Claus with awkward-looking fellow auditionees. Louis and Nicole frown uncomprehendingly as she says her name in a Finnish accent.

Continue reading X Factor 2016: Saara’s Journey – From “Abroad” To Adored