BGT 2013: The Eggstermination of Richard and Adam

As guessing producers’ intentions is such an integral part of predicting Simon Cowell shows, it’s always a worthwhile exercise to look back, with the percentages in hand, and try to reverse-engineer what they might have been thinking. And we reckon, looking at the semi-final results, that they must have concluded this: if Attraction were to win, Richard and Adam would have to be eggsterminated.

Admittedly, there is a good deal of guesswork involved given that we don’t know the raw vote totals for the semi-finals, only the percentages. (And all credit to ITV for this – it’s more than the BBC and EBU deign to tell us). And the quality of semi-final opposition would also impact the totals. But if we make a working assumption that a similar proportion of viewers vote each day, we can combine those percentages with the ratings to guesstimate how the votes were distributed across the semi-finals among the acts who would make up the final.

Here are the figures:

Richard and Adam 23.1%
Attraction 16.3%
Jack Carroll 13.0%
The Luminites 10.6%
Francine Lewis 7.0%
Gabz Gardiner 6.9%
Asanda Jezile 5.9%
Pre-Skool 5.0%
Arisxandra 4.7%
Jordan O’Keefe 4.2%
Steve Hewlett 3.3%

The eggstermination of Richard and Adam began with the running order. Fourth-from-last is not a bad spot at all – George Sampson won from there. But it’s not as good as third-from-last, second-from-last or last, the slots given to the next three in the above list. As soon as it became clear that the order announced at the start of the show would be the running order, Richard and Adam started to drift on Betfair.

Then there was the song choice. It may make sense for an act whose audition provided a real “wow” moment to remind viewers of it in the final, but – competent though it was – that was hardly the case with ‘The Impossible Dream’. There must have been several potential choices of song we hadn’t heard from them before that could have created more impact.

Now consider the lighting. In the semi, the warm golden glow of success:

In the final, the feeling of a cold and rainy night:

They’re standing further apart, too, subtly conveying just a bit less brotherly togetherness. That turned out to be convenient: egg lady wouldn’t have fitted between them as easily if they’d been standing as they did in the semi.

Onto the comments. In the semi, they got Amanda gushing about how she felt “enormously patriotic, proud to be British” and envisaged them in “stadiums across the world representing our country”. In the final, Simon said “I don’t think you’re the best singers who sing this kind of music”, but, on the bright side, at least “you like each other”.

Were the eggs part of the eggstermination? That’s a fascinating question. It’s so easy to see conspiracy everywhere you look when analysing a Cowell show, you have to remind yourself that cock-ups happen, too – we can’t eggsclude the possibility that a jobbing musician simply decided unilaterally that it would be fun to lob eggs at Simon Cowell in front of 13 million people.

But the eggs smelled fishy to some in the Sofabet comments. While sceptical that it was staged, eurovicious notes: “in previous stage invasions I’ve seen the director cuts away to a different camera as soon as they realise what’s happening. Rewatching it, I’m struck that her emergence and throwing of the eggs were perfectly timed for the long shot where the camera zooms in from a wide view of the stage to a close-up on R&A – so she really became the focal point and the camera kept zooming in on her. It framed her perfectly. She didn’t look like the typical stage invader either, she was telegenically grinning while she did it.”

Cade adds: “Staging talked-about incidents during live events, then getting tons of press coverage the next day – ensures people are reminded to never miss out the next time.”

While some in the Sofabet comments felt that the egg-throwing might have helped Richard and Adam by prompting a sympathy vote, our instinct is that the reverse might just as easily have been true – the effect felt similar to the “diversionary argument” we often see in X Factor, when the judges bicker with each other over choreography or somesuch and the acts look like spare parts in what ought to be their big moment. Viewers who might otherwise have been turning to each other at the end of the performance and saying “those lads are good” were instead saying “what just happened?”

We have a genuinely open mind about the eggs factor. But it is noticeable that, as Chatterbox5200 points out in the comments, the post-show conversation was dominated by Cowell being egged rather than by controversy about Hungarians winning the show. As Don Draper would tell us, if you’re worried about what’s going to be said, pre-emptively change the conversation.

Moving onto the winners, and at the time we thought Attraction’s patriotic routine was so transparently cynical an exercise in sucking up, and so much less affecting than their previous routines, we even wondered if it was an attempt to nobble them. Commenters had similar thoughts, eurovicious calling it “jingoistic claptrap”, Chatterbox saying it “seemed rather too false” and Kevin wondering “Attraction are mercenaries, is that what is coming across to Joe Public?”

Attraction promptly drifted out from 1/3 to evens, but in hindsight this was perhaps one of those cases where we in the TV betting community were ill-served by our tendency to think meta. It may be that voters saw it at face value, as a tribute to the wonderfulness of Britain, because if you compare the final results with our guesstimates from the semi then you’ll see that Attraction did significantly better:

Attraction 27.0% (+65% of semi)
Jack Carroll 20.1% (+54% of semi)
Richard & Adam 15.4% (-33% of semi)

On reflection we tend to agree with HenryVIII, who argued in the comments that when Cowell was pictured pulling a Jai McDowell face on hearing the result it was only because “He’s mindful of the non British winner criticism”. Roach added that if producers had been trying to get Jack to win, they wouldn’t have put Attraction on last or given the wildcard to Steve Hewlett. Indeed.

We’ve found this a tricky BGT, having misjudged from the start producers’ willingness to push a non-British winner, and we were relieved in the end that the sandwich-makers brought home the bacon, lettuce and tomato by hanging on for third. We feel like we’ve got closure on it now, though. Care to revise our version of history? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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6 comments to BGT 2013: The Eggstermination of Richard and Adam

  • Andy

    Excellent Analysis Andrew.
    Patriotic punters didn’t have a prayer this year on the outright market.
    The TPTB got there own way yet again.
    I believe most made profits in the semi’s by predicting at almost pinpoint accuracy all 5 winning acts and a few qualifiers, then thankfully Attractions price drift in the final allowing for any cover bets necessary.
    Moving on a little wiser.

  • I thought that this may be of interest. I’m a member of an Internet based website in ‘sound recording techniques and this link to there came in today on my email and headed …..
    “Viola player Natalie Holt throws eggs at Simon Cowell on Britain’s Got Talent. She protests at having to mime playing her instrument”.

  • Andy.

    posted 22nd April 2013.

    Was there a message at the start of BGT this week when Amanda said,

    9 times out of 10 you know who the winner is of this show, They come on and you get that feeling.

    2 or 3 clips of Attractions shadow act followed by a clip of Amanda and Alesha teary eyed and a standingovation by all 4 judges.

    The clues were there all along.
    Shame I didn’t pay attention to them.

  • Shoulders

    If it was staged it would explain why the show said they had decided not to involve the police. Given R&A’s day job Simons comment at the time that he thought it was someone throwing sandwiches was very demeaning to an act they had gushed praise on in the semis who had just had their act sabotaged.

  • Henry VIII

    Her explanation doesn’t ring true at all. Her apologies and everything she says is that of a normal well balanced woman. But not a truthful one. On balance I think one of Cowell’s minions put her up to it. Just on balance. I wouldn’t be surprised either way. The other alternative is that she wants 5 minutes of fame, to be on Celebrity Big Brother. But it would just be 5 minutes after which she’ll be forgotten for good.

    I think that overall publicity would be Cowell’s motive as much as nobbling R & A. And I think it was very bad for R & A. The power of their song lost. And many who would have been inclined to pick up the phone and vote were busy talking about the eggs instead.

    Cowell also said “I think you could win the competition”. That’s another dampener isn’t it? On top of “you’re not the best…”. Very different from saying “I think you could win if people pick up their phone and vote”.

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