BGT 2012: Final preview

We get plenty wrong here at Sofabet, so forgive us a chuckle at having come so close to scripting Simon Cowell’s response to Jonathan and Charlotte’s semi-final audition. Here’s what we imagined Simon saying in our article last week: “Jonathan, at your audition, I wondered if Charlotte might hold you back, and you insisted on sticking with her. Let me tell you something. You were right.”

Here’s what Simon actually said: “Like I said during the first audition, Charlotte, I believed that you were holding him back. You made the decision to stay together, Jonathan. And I have to tell you, that was the best decision you ever made.”

Jonathan and Charlotte gave as good a semi-final performance, and received as much pimping, as their backers could have hoped for. After being 7/2 going into semi-finals week, they are now odds-on favourites. So is Saturday night’s show going to be a procession?

There are, as ever, two questions to answer here. First: what do producers want? Second: will the public play ball?

The consensus among Sofabet commenters has been that producers have no reason to look beyond Jonathan and Charlotte for the victory. As commenter D summed it up before the semis, they are “clearly by far the most talented of the bunch, humble, marketable”. Their semi-final pimping prompted PG to ask rhetorically, “is there any doubt what plan A is now?”

Their narrative so far certainly reeks of careful planning, right down to the subliminal effects of the name of the act. As Tim B points out, in the audition – when the dramatic tension initially revolved around whether Jonathan would prove himself worthy of gracing the same stage as his more physically attractive companion – they were introduced as “Charlotte and Jonathan”; in the semi, when the dramatic tension was all about whether Charlotte could justify her place alongside Jonathan’s vocal prowess – they were presented as “Jonathan and Charlotte”.

(Which, incidentally, casts an amusing new light on the opening to Ashleigh and Pudsey’s audition, in which Ant and Dec joke about whether it’s “Ashleigh and Pudsey” or “Pudsey and Ashleigh” because “once it’s there, it’s there forever”).

So let’s assume that producers will not be angling to get Jonathan and Charlotte beaten on Saturday night. There is then, however, the question of what PG calls the “Jai McDowell fiasco”. Sofabet commenters last year were in little doubt that the Scot was not supposed to have beaten Ronan Parke, and that producers dropped a clod in allowing Jai to perform as late as 8th in the running order after putting Ronan in the surprisingly early slot of 6th.

To be fair, it must be tough being a BGT producer deciding on the Saturday final line-up. You presumably don’t want the last act on to win it every single year, or people beyond this little corner of the internet might start to remark on it.

But then, if you don’t put your favoured act in the last couple of slots, you have to put someone else there. And you don’t want to cram all of your weakest acts into the second half of the show along with your preferred winner, because you also want to put on an entertaining show for the viewing public.

Moreover, in making this decision, you have only one round of voting – the semi-finals – to go on. It’s not like deciding you can safely risk putting Little Mix on first in week 8 of the X Factor. And on top of that, you have to make these decisions the morning after putting on your fifth live show in five evenings, which is presumably a tiring endeavour.

At least this year the revised schedule, with the semis having started on Sunday and finished on Thursday, gives producers an extra 24 hours to reflect on which acts they can safely allow to perform late and which they need to bury early. But if there is to be an unexpected winner, who might it be?

Ashleigh and Pudsey got a big production on Sunday night and plenty of love from Simon “I’ve had a lot of dogs in my life” Cowell. Sofabet commenter eurovicious warns that “A guy with a dancing dog won the 3rd German series of Talent in 2009 in a surprise victory, beating the two acts the show was very obviously trying to steer towards the top two places… Never underestimate the “aww” factor”.

(And for Cowellesque aficionados of the genre, here’s the act in question, Supertalenthund PrimaDonna. It’s hard to disagree with eurovicious’s verdict that this act is “much better” – can Pudsey do the shoe-walking thing Supertalenthund PrimaDonna does at 2:11 in the linked video? On the other hand, Pudsey is immeasurably cuter, and there’s that lovely video of an eleven-year-old Ashleigh opening a box with him in it as a puppy, and he can walk as upright as any of the pigs in Animal Farm.)

It’s also hard to disagree with eurovicious when he reckons that Tuesday night’s winner, three-piece Essex boyband the Loveable Rogues, don’t have the “standout universal appeal” of Jonathan and Charlotte. Cowell certainly pimped them furiously, saying “I know exactly who you should be working with on your first album”, which should give us pause for thought.

But it’s worth thinking back to last year, when Cowell also furiously pimped boyband New Bounce, calling them “the ones to beat” and the only act that could work in the “real world” (have you seen much of New Bounce in the real world these last twelve months?). This propelled them towards the head of the market and had us scratching our heads here at Sofabet. With hindsight, after they only just scraped into third from the pimp slot in the final, it looked like a classic decoy – talking up an act that were never going to be a real danger, to create the impression of a closer race. Could this be what’s happening here?

On paper, as a cute young lad with a pleasant voice Sam Kelly, winner of Wednesday’s semi, ought to be a danger. However, there is no sense that the show is seriously attempting to push him. There’s not much to speak of in the way of backstory, and the pimping was decidedly muted in comparison to the Loveable Rogues. The most we got was that he “sounds like a recording artist” (as do lots of people who don’t ever necessarily become recording artists).

One also has to ask what he beat. As R put it after Wednesday’s show, “The acts were so poor tonight that Ant had to beg the viewers to vote.”

There’s another problem for Sam in the shape of Thursday’s semi final winner Ryan O’Shaugnessy, another boy-with-guitar. Ryan has more than one backstory of his own: his reinstatement in the competition having been in the Irish version of The Voice and contracted to Universal; and his failure to win the heart of the girl he sung about in his first audition. He also sings his own material.

O’Shaugnessy is The Voice and The Writer, and Cowell probably wouldn’t mind a bit of oneupmanship in this regard. Could this be behind Cowell’s pimping of O’Shaugnessy’s chances in the final?

Henry VIII draws this conclusion from a final that is more packed with singers than ever before, which eurovicious also noted. We’ve ended up with at least six in total – it will be interesting to see where they are allotted in the final running order.

What of the acts who finished second in their heats? It’s worth remembering that only two acts in BGT history have placed in the final having not won their heat. One was Diversity, who finished second to SuBo in their semi from the opening slot and beat her when given the second-to-last spot in the final. The other was Twist & Pulse, who performed fourth in their heat.

Those acts have two things in common – both street dance acts, and both qualifiers from an early slot in their heat, indicating an appeal strong enough to survive a disadvantaged place in the running order.

Given that Only Boys Aloud got the pimp slot in Sunday night’s semi and still finished behind Ashleigh and Pudsey, it’s hard to see how they’ll be able to mount a threat on Saturday.

Kai and Natalia, qualifiers behind Jonathan and Charlotte on Monday, performed seventh of nine and the fact that they went through on a 3:1 decision implies they may have finished behind Paige Turley in the public vote. They don’t look strong enough.

Molly Rainford qualified from fourth in her heat on Tuesday, but a child singer has yet to win this and they couldn’t have tried much harder with Ronan Parke last year. She seems unlikely to get the help he did, or to prosper without it.

Wednesday’s other qualifier was Nu Sxool. They almost tick our two boxes, being a dance troupe (though it’s a push to call them street, given the school uniform schtick) and having qualified from outside the last three at least (though not very early – they went 6th out of 9).

As Boki writes in the comments, “based on BGT history it seems that a good dance act with a good draw has more chance to win than a singer”. However, Nu Sxool don’t appear to be in the same league as previous dance winners of this show, and will also be splitting the Welsh regional vote with Only Boys Aloud.

Also qualifying on Thursday was Aquabatique. The synchronised swimmers are incredibly athletic, but we have already suggested that logistically, they would not be the most practical of winners. Their underwater antics also create a certain distance from the audience, both physically and in other senses.

Then there’s the wildcard act. The judges are making their decision tonight (Thursday). It seems likely to be between The Mend and T&P Dance Company. The former would split the boyband vote with Loveable Rogues, the latter would split the dance vote with Nu Sxool. Keep an eye out for our comments section for reaction once this decision has been made.

All in all, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that semi-final week has changed little. The question is still “can anyone beat Jonathan and Charlotte”, and it still looks likely that (a) they will be wanted as the winners and (b) the public will oblige. The market looks to have got it about right.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record about the running order, if you missed our semi-final preview article do check out the graph of running order and results in the final. The bottom line: only one act (Twist and Pulse) has placed in the final from the first half of the show, and no act performing last in the final has yet been outside the top three. Many of the singing acts present will be thrown under the bus come Saturday night.

Are you seeing any angles in the available odds before the all-important running order is known? Please use the thread below to share your thoughts, news and theories in the build-up to the big event.

37 comments to BGT 2012: Final preview

  • henna

    With just a bit of push Ashley and Pudsey might win. Their benefit is not only the awwww factor but also being a variety act among too many singers(why oh why did they pimp sam kelly when they knew they will make boy-with-guitar ryan qualify). The format would surely benefit from a non singer act winning. plus simon can still sign and milk jonathan and charlotte if they end up second. They actually might even want the dog and girl to win, I think they were the most featured bgt act this week on Daily Mail for example: paparazzis catching him wee on a tree and even some home story stuff. Put it’s definitely between these two.

  • Noisy

    Last year they wanted a kid singer to win in Ronan, but had pimped him so much before the final there were shouts of fix and they had to put him on earlier than they wanted to so it wouldn’t look like more favouritism. It backfired when Jai went a couple of slots later and beat him.

    This year, if they’re again wanting a kid singer to win they’ve got one who’s made the final from 4th in her heat without the pimping and favouritism of last year. They could now put Molly in the final’s pimp slot without any complaints and if she can get through from 4th up, how will she fare from the pimp slot?

    It was also give the Syco haters someone to vote for to stop their apparent favourite of J&C from winning.

  • PG

    They won’t want Molly to win , she is the token child singer as every final of BGT must have at least one. If there is an anti Syco vote then surely then A&P would be the winners of any such actions . Maybe the story about the Loveable rogues being fast tracked was a smokescreen to avoid any Syco want J&C to win stories gathering momentum. Long term Cowell will make the most money from J&C or just J so maybe it doesn’t overly matter to him if they get beat in the final, a gallant second place will do. As always the running order will be critical

  • PG

    There is a 15 min overlap between the voice finishing at 1945 and the BGT final starting at 1930 so at least one act will receive the Michael Collings thrown under the tardis treatment from last year maybe even Two acts. Could be useful to dampen someone like the LR in this manner.

  • AlisonR

    My bet for the running order:
    1. Nu Sxool
    2. Sam Kelly
    3. Wildcard if Billy or The Mend, or Kai & Natalia if not
    4. Molly
    5. Wildcard if T&P, or Kai & Natalia if wildcard is The Mend or Billy
    6. Loveable Rogues
    7. Aquabatic
    8. Only Boys Aloud
    9. Ryan
    10. A&P
    11. J&C

    • AlisonR

      Not a bad call on order, just interchanges of 1&3, 5&6, 8&9.
      Pleased to have called top 3 finishers, in order, as mentioned in my post on one of the semi-final boards (By the way, where are these? They seem to have disappeared. with just final preview and results, and semi final previews).

  • Tim B

    AlisonR I agree, that looks about right.

    Sam cancels out Ryan
    The Mend (assuming they are the wildcard) cancel out The Loveable Rogues

    Molly, Nu Sxool, Aquabatique, Only Boys Aloud, Kai and Natalia are probably not win contenders.

    So that leaves only Jonathan and Charlotte and Ashleigh and Pudsey. I’ve made J&C my biggest winner with A&P my second biggest winner.

  • Nugget

    Hi Guys,

    Been busy with other commitments for a while so not been around….Off to BGT final tomorrow…have not had a bet yet but might have a small wager on A&P , got quite a following in my office.

    Lots of reading to do to catch up with everyones viewson BGT and ESC

  • eurovicious

    The dog has me a little worried. The odds on A&P have contracted a lot. Could they, as Family Fortunes would put it, have a chance to steal?

    I maintain their act is complete balls (and I’m also slightly concerned at her relationship to the dog and the way it paws at her arse in the routine), but I wasn’t surprised they beat Only Boys Aloud to win the first semi – singing in Welsh put the choir at a disadvantage. Also: they were all on stage from the start, rather than just a few soloists opening the song then the rest streaming in for the chorus as in the audition. Being so large in number means they’re not very identifiable. I worry now that not singing in English will also put Jonathan and Charlotte at a disadvantage. And is possible that the voting public has simply moved beyond the whole “disadvantaged lumpenprole hollering opera/Les Mis” thang? There’s an argument that the girl and dog are more immediate, relatable and fun. But do they have a sob story?

    All in all, I still think J&C will win. Because they can deliver a big emotional moment. His voice, her voice, the staging, the story, the choice of song – given the resources at the show’s disposal and their expertise in delivering stunning performances of this kind, I think we can expect a real showstopper from J&C that will give people goosebumps and literally move them to vote. A daft dancing dog act may give people a chuckle and make them go “aww” but arguably it can’t touch them on the level of a genuinely moving or breathtaking song or dance performance can (like Jai, Diversity etc.).

  • Nugget

    A&P lead in Applause Store Facebook poll!

  • Nugget

    I personally reckon A&P will be joint favourites by tomorrow night, does look a two horse race, but purely on what I hear from friends and collegues A&P would seem good value at 9/4.

  • tpfkar

    Haven’t really followed it this year, but it’s easy to imagine the only reason for having a day between the semis and the final is to stop them lousing up the final running order again!

    It looks the dullest final I’ve seen, twice as many singers as needed. Nu Skool might be value for a place (if the wildcard isn’t T&P) just because they are the urban dance act and the singing vote is so split.

  • R

    Just to overthink in reverse. Why didn’t they want both The Mend & T&P in the final? It would have been easy enough to get them both through just by placing them in either of the final two semi-finals.

    If The Mend get the wildcard, this will dilute the vote for the Lovable Rogues but also leave Nu Skool to be pimped. I think this is unlikely.

    If T&P get the wildcard, this will dilute the Nu Skool vote (not really necessary) but allows The Lovable Rogues to be pimped into 3rd place.

    Another point to highlight, as Boki pointed out earlier this week, The Mend replaced the Dandies in the first semi-final. This moved them from a weak semi-final with Sam Kelly & Nu Skool to being the sixth act to perform in the toughest semi, where they were up against A&P and the pimped Boys Aloud.

  • R

    *If Lovable Rogues are pimped then Boys Aloud (who beat them in the semi) will need to be moved into an early slot.

  • mark adam

    I really can’t decide what I think will happen tomorrow – wildcard seems to be widely assumed it will be The Mend

    so lets say The Mend came back – could they win it now? They didn’t make it through the qualifiers and perhaps as such wont be associated with winning in the minds of many viewers..altohugh there did seem to be a lot of talk for them on twitter

    As to Only Boys Aloud and Loveable Rogues – surely the stories in the papers about it being a fix and these 2 acts having been handpicked is bound to somewhat scupper their chances of getting across the finish line?

    Same applies to Aquabatique accused of being involved in a fix..imo the minute any act is accused of being involved in some kind of fix with the show it instantly reduces their chances of winning

    I think Jonathan and Charloette the likely winners..can’t see a dog act winning despite all the talk and how Cowell has always apparently been looking for a good dog act

  • Donald

    Great article and comments, really helps to catch up.
    Seems between the front two.

    A&P seem to have caught the public imagination, people talking about them and liking.

    Simon in the cuddly toy business?

  • Nugget

    I will be at Fountain Studios from 9am today, will try and post the running order if I can find it out in advance.

  • mark adam

    cool Nugget = thanks..howcome you’re going? Is it free to go?

  • Nugget

    Like most shows Mark, a small number of free tickets get released to public through Applause Store, though these do not guarantee entry. First all the VIPs, production guests, sponsors guests, acts family members and press get in. IF there are any seats left then the public get in. It’s hard for big shows to get tickets, but have been lucky enough to get to a few Xfactors inc final. I live not far from studio and will queue for 9 hours to make sure I get in, because not many will. A ticket does not guarantee entry, they give out at least twice as many tickets than seats no cover no shows and guarantee a full house, at some x factors last year hardly any general ticket holders got entry.

  • Here’s my 2p worth.

    Obviously, running order is everything, and this year after the disaster of 2011, they can get away with sticking dogs and large opera singers at the back end of the show…. I will be using this excuse when I am wrong. BGT is very very tough to call, due to the short amount of time we get.

    This is a betting site, so I think there’s value on Ryan to win at 19-1.

    Most likely to win? The dog.

    I should write a long winded piece about split votes blah blah, but the dog is most likely to win because of vote splitting elsewhere.

    So, stick a bit on the dog, and a side bet or E/W bet on Ryan. Imho. But, the running order is key, so maybe hold off until we get confirmation!

    Top Three: 1. Dog, 2. Opera, 3. Ryan.

  • PG

    Being reported that special guests on tonights final will be Susan Boyle & Diversity though probably not at the same time , possibly not good for any dance troop(s) ( will look second rate in comparison ) and maybe even the singers will be compared unfavourably to Subo. No reports of Lassie appearing so this may be a positive for A&P.

    Do we know if Nugget has got in?

  • Pete D

    Nugget…Good luck getting in to see the final matey (and whatever your bet). Got my money on Loveable Rogues (and a forecast on them and the dog) with a side cover on Ryan too.

  • PG

    The mend being reported on DS as the wildcard, surely not helpful ( if true ) for the Loveable rogues and yet another singing act to dilute the already stretched voting pool for the singers. Soon find out if that is correct!

  • Nugget

    Sorry guys, didn’t get in 🙁

  • They’ve buried “The Mend” in the Voice crossover.

  • PG

    Quality, make a big fuss of the wildcard and then bury them under a bus, still should dilute the vote share for the LR which i am sure was the plan all along.

  • PG

    They could have got the LR to win this with a later slot and less singing acts in the final.

  • R

    Sounds like J&C get the final slot after all.

  • Boki

    It’s between last two with doggy still with chance imo.

  • Nugget

    A&P win this IMHO, on at 9/4, though it touched 10/3 in running 🙁

  • Donald

    Looks like A&P Nice price, fingers x

  • Boki

    To Win Poll: Ash&Pud 45% , Char & Jon 26%, OBAloud 8%, Lrogues 8%, Ryan 4% Rest<3%.

  • PG

    Get in! I love this programme.

  • eurovicious

    Oh balls.

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