BGT 2016: Running Order in the Semi-Finals

Britain’s Got Talent starts its week of live semi-finals on Sunday, and it’s a brave punter who’d bet on them before seeing the running order. We now have four years of data with nine-act semi-finals (i.e. 20 data points for each running order position). Here’s the average percentage of the vote achieved from each slot:average-vote-running-order-BGT-2012-2015(For the benefit of new readers, we assume this is part basic human psychology, part producer manipulation. That is, all else being equal, it helps to go on late due to the recency effect; but all else isn’t equal, because producers are therefore tempted to give late slots to the acts they want to pimp into the final.)

However, producers know they need to mix things up a bit – sometimes they have to put a pimped act on early, and no-hopers on late. For a more nuanced picture, here’s the vote distribution from each of the nine slots:


Last year’s semi-finals seemed to have been particularly influenced by the perceived need to mix things up a bit. In the first semi-final, producers put overall favourite Côr Glanaethwy on 5th, and in the second semi-final they put eventual winner Jules & Matisse on 2nd. Across those two days, most unusually, five of the six top-three acts performed between 1st and 5th.

Then it was as if producers thought “okay, that should stop those Sofabet discussions about the running order getting any wider traction, we can safely resume normal service now”. So they did: Wednesday’s semi was won from 9th, Thursday’s from 8th (with 9th finishing third), and Friday’s from 9th (with 8th finishing third). Will they feel the need to do something similar this year, or will it be normal service from the get-go?

The overall consensus in the Sofabet comments last year was that producers had dialled down the manipulation, and seemed more concerned with putting on a decent show. The markets had expected the Welsh choir Côr Glanaethwy to be pushed to the win; as it happened, the pimp slot in the final – and the win – went to Jules & Matisse (or, as it turned out, Jules & Another Dog That Looked Like Matisse).

Opinion was mixed in the Sofabet comments last year about whether Côr Glanaethwy were never, in fact, producers’ Plan A, or they were initially Plan A but producers had second thoughts after seeing the semi vote totals. See our post-mortem of last year’s voting statistics for an attempt to reverse-engineer, with hindsight, what producers might have been thinking.

Will we again see an apparently more relaxed approach to who wins it this year? Or will we see a repeat of the scorched-earth manipulation-fest that subsequently secured the X Factor for Louisa Johnson?

For the outright market, as the week unfolds, it’s also worth bearing in mind the pattern to which semi the eventual winners tend to come from. Here’s which semi the winner, second and third came from the eight years we’ve had five semi-finals:

2015: 2, 3, 1
2014: 1, 3, 4
2013: 5, 1, 2
2012: 1, 2, 1
2011: 4, 1, 2
2010: 1, 4, 5
2009: 1, 4, 1
2008: 3, 1, 2

Four of the eight winners have come from the first semi of the week (it would have been five had Jai McDowell not upset Ronan Parke in 2011), and the first semi’s winner has never failed to place in the final – indeed, twice both qualifiers from the first semi made the podium. However, last year winning the first semi didn’t do Côr Glanaethwy much good.

The BGT semi-finals are usually fun for connoisseurs of over-the-top pimpings and ruthless hatchet jobs. As ever, do let us know below what you’re making of them as the week unfolds.

103 comments to BGT 2016: Running Order in the Semi-Finals

  • Sagand

    The line up for tomorrow’s semi is:
    100 Voices of Gospel
    Ben Blaque
    Darren Altman
    Kathleen Jenkins
    Mel & Jamie
    Richard Bayton
    Spartans Resurrection
    Total TXS
    Ystrad Fawr Dancers

    I can’t see the top three being made up of anyone but 100 Voices, Kathleen Jenkins and Darren Altman, most likely with Kathleen winning and Darren Altman put through for variety.

  • Score

    Not sure if Kathleen will be pimped or have the brakes applied. Becky O’Brien last year also got a fairly pimped audition and then appeared on semi final 1 with a poor song choice and lukewarm comments. Depends how much they want to get 100 Voices of Gospel over the line, who seem to be one of this year’s producer favourites.

    Running order will of course be key. I’m fairly confident one of the dancers will be on first and either 100 Voices (probably) or Kathleen (if they do want her in the final) on last.

  • Alan

    Im not sure you can compare Kathleen to Becky. The latter’s pimping always felt like it was simply about creating a feelgood moment around the backstory rather than down to any particular talent. Once they had used the backstory they got rid of her. Im certainly no expert on that type of singing but Kathleen seemed genuinely special to me. Id be amazed if she doesnt go through.

  • Score

    I hope you’re right as I liked her audition a lot. Looks like she’s on after the break, so an early slot although based on last year that isn’t necessarily damning for her. I do think 100 Voices of Gospel will be the act pimped the most tonight though.

    • Sagand

      Looks like you were right. Damned with faint praise and end of the journey comments, along with sharing the semi with two other Welsh acts and no ad break after her. Does look like 100 Voices will win this one. Good call pre-show.

      • Score

        She wasn’t thrown under the bus to be fair. I think it could be enough to get her into the judges vote, but I can’t see her winning the night unless 100 Voices and Darren both disappoint. She was still pretty good but they could have made more of her had they wanted to.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Well played, Score! I think you’ve probably nailed the value bets of BGT 2016!

      Perhaps you are the successor to the awesome “stoney” (whatever happened to him?), who I recall successfully picking out the winners and the value throughout the BGT Semi’s week a couple of years ago or so, on this site.

      Just had a YouTube look at many of the acts in this year’s BGT and in this upcoming Semi 2, in particular.

      Another Kind Of Blue look head and shoulders above the competition in their Semi, yet that seems to be reflected in the 8/15 to 4/9 favouritism.

      The YouTube video of Rachael Wooding’s performance in the auditions blew me away…though it wasn’t a huge surprise given she is a pro West End singer and a pro actress (ex-Corrie). Still, she is something special. That’s how to perform a song. I’ve rewatched it a few ties already. God, the quality of it.

      I’m just wondering if Kevin Simm’s victory on The Voice has give Cowell pause for thought regarding Rachael?

      Wasn’t impressed by Wayne Woodward. It’s shtick upon shtick. Like a Danny Dyer impersonator doing a Frank Sinatra impression. It’s true that he is very charming and winning. Having a look around his competitors in the Semi, it’s difficult to see who else is going to be claiming the impressionable female vote.

      On sheer quality terms, I’m tempted to take a position against the Semi 2nd favourite, Wayne, by maybe dutching (or something like that) AKOB and Rachael.

      Another Kind Of Blue simply have to, must be in the final. Amazing concept wonderfully performed. They remind me slightly of Freckled Sky (a bit of a niggling worry, there, I suppose) in addition to being slightly reminiscent, conceptually, of Attraction (but not TOO much).

      Am just wondering if Northern mum, Rachael, pulls out an epic song performance from Evita, and why not as she has toured in that musical playing Eva Perón herself!, then she could put herself in the reckoning. Am just concerned that BGT might be more interested and invested in protecting Beau Dermott’s place in the final rather than giving Rachael a fair shot.

      Of all the YouTube clips I watched, the one that stands out value-wise for me in the betting outrights is Jasmine Elcock. She’s drifted out to 9s.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Plus, if Jasmine is my idea of best value at 9s on the outright market, then I nominate the apparently one-trick Boogie Storm as the worst value. The dancing stormtroopers have just been backed into 16s with Coral!

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        Hmmm – pause for thought! Noticed on oddschecker that Tim B is tipping up Wayne Woodward to win tonight’s Semi!

        The same act I was thinking of taking a position against! Obviously, Tim B has been closely following this season’s BGT, so I feel a bit wary of my choices now, considering I’ve only just caught up by watching a rash of YouTube videos!

  • Score

    And Darren died on his arse, so she might just make it.

  • Alan

    Did anyone make any money off the 2nd / 3rd place judges vote? Was there a market up? It seemed obvious at that stage that Kathleen was on her way home.

    I wont be betting at all I dont think. I thought she was a shoe-in for the final before I saw the running order.

    • I was getting matched backing Mel and Jamie to qualify at 3.0 during the judges’ vote. They really were poor vocally and Kathleen undoubtedly deserved to go through instead, but the voters often buy into these “family” acts, even when they’re sub-par.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Come on, Score! What are your thoughts for tonight’s Semi?

  • Looking at how the odds have moved throughout the last few hours, Shannon and Peter could have a very good slot in the running order and/or a great routine tonight. Lots of money has been coming in for them to qualify. Similarly, Rachael has drifted, so I’m wondering if perhaps she’s on early….

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Alternatively, it could be that the 2 acts you’ve flagged up on oddschecker are thus (indeed) the market movers?

      The question is: how much of the price movement will be due to your tips, and how much will be due to running order knowledge?

  • Alan

    Haha. Wayne singing Thats Life. Think he might actually overcome the burden of that song for once. Bigger pimpings to come though I reckon so maybe not.

  • DannyCraig

    “Red & black”, and “colour-vomit” in the same number. Can’t wait to see this being used in next year’s X-factor!

  • Score

    A bit late for predictions as we’re halfway through! I think the winning acts will come later though. Another Kind of Blue are definites for me. Much like Kathleen, Rachael reminds me of a lot of other solo singers they’ve had in the past 2 or 3 years (I could reel off a whole list of them) who’ve had less than favourable treatment in the semis.

    But then I’m not sure if the public will go for Peter & Shannon or Alex. I’m not sure how the latter will come across if he isn’t live. So a tough one to call. I’ll take a punt and go for Peter & Shannon but I’m not confident at all.

    I promise I’ll make predictions before the show tomorrow!

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    I held back on betting on this Semi and thank God I did as Rachael and also AKOB got killed in the judges’ feedback.

    In-running prices are interesting. Fancy prices about for Wayne, given the let-downs I’ve watched. Missed Wayne. How was he?

  • Score

    Very surprised at how tonight went. Even after seeing the performances I didn’t think Wayne would win. I wasn’t sure he’d make top 3 even. To win from the #2 slot surely means he’s a serious threat for the win.

    I think Shannon & Peter could get the wildcard, they were much better than Mel & Jamie last night. A much tougher show on the whole though. Pleased for Alex, the act worked much better than I expected tonight.

  • Alan

    That’s it for me then in terms of betting. Not only does Wayne win singing That’s Life but the judges ditch the act that has just been given the pimp slot. Thankfully only small stakes bet but still not going to bother again. My track record with BGT is terrible.

  • Sagand

    So two semis down two massive favourites out. Goes to show you can’t count on anything until the performance happens.

    That being said, I think Richard Jones will be pretty safe tomorrow. Jack Higgins should do well too.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Mightily relieved I happened across Tim’s preview. I’d forgotten about the skill with which a SYCO show can contrive a result.

    At one point of the show, my finger was hovering over Wayne to win at 12/1 (I think), but I hesitated and next time I looked he was into 4s. I hadn’t seen his performance and I didn’t want to be having a bet semi-blind, so to speak.

    I’m guessing Tim did very, very well this evening!

  • Fudd

    Wayne to win? Whilst not completely throwing him under a bus the show could have been more helpful to him this evening – second position in the performance order, red and black with some colour vomit, That’s Life, a much tougher semi final than yesterday and he still won the public vote.

    Just revealed on More Talent that his song for the final is based on ‘Fly’ with Stephen hinting heavily that it’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ – well in his comfort zone and should do well in the demo.

    The question is do the producers want him to win? After tonight do they have much choice either way?

  • Coben91

    Pretty sure producers didn’t expect Wayne to be as good as he was. Pretty sure the judges weren’t expecting it either – I believe the 2-judge standing ovation may have been a genuine reaction from Amanda and David. For me it was notable that Alesha and Simon, who tend to be the most on-message, were not standing. Not an outright hatchet job but an early slot, red-and-black staging and unhelpful song can’t have been intended to do Wayne any favours. I read an article earlier saying he’d chosen the song himself (and switched to it last-minute) but don’t know if we can believe that.

    I’m not entirely sure why they’re against him; far less commercially lucrative acts have been pimped to high heaven (the gospel choir and Shannon/Peter). Perhaps producers are trying to sacrifice singers and bigger dance groups for variety but with both X Factor and The Voice having such low viewing figures I’m not surprised that people are enjoying the singers this year on BGT – people are not watching singing shows all year round now.

    I picked Wayne outright immediately after his first audition so fingers crossed. I can’t see Beau winning, she’s the most talented act from the “singing child” category that I can remember but I think she’ll be another SuBo right down to the 2nd place finish.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised with a repeat of BGT 2011 with Wayne playing Jai and Beau playing Ronan, although if producers have learned from that they won’t give Wayne a late slot in the final. Could even give him a 2-1? This is all assuming they still don’t want him to win, since it wouldn’t be hard to get him over the line.

    Also felt AKOB got very damaging treatment tonight. Lukewarm comments (besides Amanda) and bad camerawork that focused too much on the dancers rather than the bird’s-eye view of the screen, which is what makes the act interesting. I think the comparisons to Attraction caused producers to slam on the brakes.

  • Martin

    A curious week so far. The first semi-final was piss poor, and last night had four acts that potentially could have gone through. I expected Wayne in the top three, purely because he’s so likeable and does put in a fairly decent performance but after “That’s Life” and being second on, I expected him to be second or third in the vote and being binned off by the judges. That said – the alternatives weren’t obvious vote getters. If Another Kind Of Blue or Rachel Woodings were in the pimp slot with more favourable comments, I think they would have lodged him from the top spot.

    It is cautionary though – it’s easy to pick out the favourites before the show, but it’s difficult to read before we’ve seen it. Tonight does seem more clear-cut, with Jack Higgins and Richard Jones being the obvious stand outs. That said, I did miss a few weeks, and so I haven’t seen Simon’s golden buzzer act or Morgan Connie Smith.

  • Can anyone make a case for why they might want Wayne Woodward to win? I think most of us are probably assuming that they won’t, for obvious reasons (commercial prospects dubious, they’ve had solo male singing winners before). And as others have said, last night’s treatment (‘That’s Life’ from an early slot, Cowell’s comments kind enough but not excessive) suggested they weren’t thinking of him as a winner before the semi. But as we’ve seen before, minds can change.

    Re your last question Fudd, I do reckon they could stop him easily enough if they wanted to – a middling slot and “I love you, but that was just okay” type comments, combined with pimping others late on, should do it. But agree with Coben that it would also probably be easy enough to get him over the line if they want to. Just interested if anyone can make a case (even playing devil’s advocate) for why they might decide to run with him now.

    By the way, if anyone isn’t yet following Tim B’s coverage on oddschecker:

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I’m assuming BGT want an especially talented winner to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

      On the XF 10th anniversary series, Sam Bailey was pushed for the win. She didn’t resonate with post-show commercial potential, but there was no denying her talent (a worthy winner, imo) and I think XF wanted to widen the future contestant net and encourage older singers to enter.

      It could be argued, I suppose, that Wayne has everyman appeal? He ticks that box. I can’t get over the fact that I genuinely do know better karaoke singers than him. However, again, it could be argued that he embodies the everyman archetype / trope.

      Further to the Tim B link, I was doing some research last night I stumbled across this video. I think this might prove to be a key piece of info. I tossed and turned over in my mind whether this was a massive positive or a possible negative, but it does have game-changer potential…and given the fancy prices available for this Semi, well…


      Surely to God, BGT know this and would just love to make a play out of this by having them both in the final? Will she be there in the audience cheering him on?

      The other perspective would be that this could lead to an unprecedented variety of vote split (in the final). Then again, maybe they both would boost each other’s vote? Voters feeling they can’t choose one over the other, and so vote for both? I guess it might be her who’s the prime beneficiary?

      Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

      Btw, God bless Lorraine, encouraging Scousers to be delighted as she brandishes the front page of The Sun! Dear Lord! The cultural awareness of the woman knows no bounds!

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        For their 10th anniversary, BGT would probably like Richard Jones to win. Regular guy appeal, but stand-out talented at what he does and the fact he’s a soldier too, might be too good to miss?

        Last year’s results do suggest both BGT and the public believe singers belong on the XF.

      • Martin

        I think their relations has been touched upon in the press, hasn’t it? I think, with BGT, the family connection is always a positive althought I can’t remember it ever playing out across two opposing acts. I think it would be quite a heartwarming (and not entirely unrealistic) story for them to both make the final and potentially being the final two. I think there is more of an emotional connection with Jack though, with his bullying potentially sparking a sympathy vote.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          I haven’t been following BGT and so I think I need to stop embarrassing myself by posting old news items in the mistaken belief that they’re revelatory material!

          • Martin

            To be fair, I forgot all about it. There was a bit of a frenzy about it at the time, but I think it can be spun as a positive if they both do make the final. They both are the better acts of their “categories”.

  • Coben

    I do think there are much less commercially viable acts than Wayne this year but TPTB have probably learned their lesson with Male X Factor Winner types, which Wayne is. I think they’d only be interested if they wanted a cheeky chappy/Buble hybrid.

    Morgan Connie Smith struck me as the single most commercially viable act across all the auditions. Think Tamera Foster but a bit younger. Were this XF I’d be expecting Louisa levels of pimping but they seem less concerned with commercial viability on BGT and more concerned about putting on a good show.

    For the sake of variety, like many of you I’m expecting Richard Jones and Jack Higgins to be the most pimped acts. I doubt having Wayne in the final was part of the plan so that’s already one singer too many.

    The Stormtroopers might make top 3 with the right treatment. They were excellent in my opinion but Cowell received heavy backlash for giving them the golden buzzer so I can’t be sure that the public will get behind them. On this topic – how much control do you all think the judges/Ant & Dec are given over their buzzer choices? The Alesha/Simon argument over the Choir’s golden buzzer struck me as a form of elaborate pimping (again I think these two are generally the most on-message) but maybe that’s too cynical.

  • Martin

    I think it depends how much Wayne won the vote by. As mentioned, he didn’t have the best treatment and still managed to win. If they run with him, he could walk it.

    Two things that come to mind for me – Jack Pack did quite well a few years back, but didn’t get the win. He’s a bit marmite, like Ray Quinn was on X Factor, but still managed second.

    There’s obviously money in this sort of act, but I do agree that male singing winners aren’t ideal.

  • Score

    Richard and Jack are the obvious front runners tonight, although I wouldn’t rule out Josh Curnow, he ticks a lot of voter boxes.

  • Joe

    Didn’t back Jack to qualify tonight but went bolder having snapped up odds of 100/1 before the show for him to win BGT. He may not beat the magician but should get a good run for my money. Cute kid, sob story, mums and nans will love him.

  • mb79493

    Well that was staged for tension. David seemed annoyed. Dec handled that much better than Olly could have ever.

  • Martin

    As soon as they skipped Alesha it was obvious that the storm troopers were through. Hope nobody lost too much on Jack not making it – he’s easily the most hard done by third place so far, may give him a decent sympathy vote into the wild card place.

  • Coben

    I think some of the judges’ comments tonight confirmed that producers aren’t behind Wayne. David praised the gospel choir by saying they were in a different league to everyone else so far, while Simon called Morgan the best solo singer yet. Am expecting an early slot plus heavy deramp/borderline hatchet job in the final.

    Anyone else find the dance troupe’s treatment interesting? Early slot + terrible staging (and in my opinion a boring routine) juxtaposed with pretty positive comments and “I can see you in the final” shoutouts.

    I didn’t spot anyone that posed even the tiniest threat to Beau tomorrow so am expecting her to walk her semi-final with a huge vote margin. Seems like producers aren’t taking any chances and are still well-invested in her. I could see the orchestra, the solo dancer or the 4-piece group get podium finishes. I’m expecting the orchestra to be the most pimped for the sake of variety and get slot 8 or 9. Beau might get the other but she shouldn’t need it to win and I’m sure they know that, so I can see them giving her 6th or 7th to quell claims of fixing and favouritism.

    Besides Jasmine Elcock and this year’s dog act, are there any other notable acts left for Thursday? Will those two be the last two finalists excluding the wildcard?

  • Alan

    I dont think there’s any doubts that TPTB aren’t invested in a Wayne win. There’s no way they would have risked second in the running order if they were. The question is do they care enough to want to try to stop him? And I’m not sure of the answer to that. There must be a sense that giving the public the winner they want is good for the brand. Surely that’s what happened last year with the dog act?

    • Coben

      Last year was weird, and yes it definitely had a sense of giving the public who they wanted. I still don’t know who Plan A was and nobody stormed their semi. The dog or magician could have won it and I don’t know how much of it came down to the dog having the pimp slot. The magician’s routine genuinely wasn’t as good as his others whilst the dog’s routine (ignoring the controversy that followed) was the best yet. I had the dog picked to win since the audition (it was on the last show and no other act had really grabbed me) so that was great but I’m less confident about Wayne this year.

      At this point I think Richard Jones, Beau and potentially Jasmine will have enough natural momentum to overtake Wayne without much producer interference. Jack could ride a wave of Maloney-esque wildcard support as well. I still think they could pimp Wayne to the win if they wanted though.

  • Martin

    Aside from Beau tonight, I can’t really see anybody else who will be going through?! Danny Beard was decent on his audition, I’m not sure that he’s the sort of act that will pull in the votes though – he’s entirely producer dependant and he’s yet another singer.

    The dancing dinosaur was fun, and the orchestra were nice but surely their gimmick is their main thing and we already know what that is now? Although the rest of the show is such slim pickings they probably stand the next best chance.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Sorry for off topic.

    Is the person who does a lot of tennis betting still around? I wonder what his thoughts are on Svetlana Kuznetsova and Naomi Osaka at the French.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I don’t know how long ago you mean but maybe a couple of years ago there was a regular poster called Heisenberg who would chat about the tennis. I used to bat a few predictions back and forth with him.

      I’ve no thoughts on Kuznetsova and Osaka as I haven’t watched them play recently. Trying to come in late to this season’s BGT betting has taught me to focus on those who have been following a topic deeply and for a time.

      Have been surprised at Andy’s struggles. Old style Andy run and fetch strategy. Karlovic should sharpen his concentration.
      Noticed that Stan is in the other half of the draw away from Rafael and Novak, yet Stan is 14s in places! I don’t know what Stan has to achieve to not be considered a fluke multiple GS champ!

      Safarova’s in a hot quarter but she’s looking good (and is another with course form, of course). I’ve long kept an eye on Madison and I think she’s due to hit an injury-free purple patch of form, but perhaps that will really manifest in the grass court season.

      Might have a tentative small stakes bet on Stan. Colt and Roberto for me in the D&D golf this week. Colt and Stan maybe appealing as a cross-sport EW double, to me.

      But…what about Svetlana and Naomi? What have you spotted, Jessica?

      • Jessica Hamby

        Svetlana won the French in 2009 and has already beaten Serena once this year in a final. It was a proper beating too, not a Serena collapse. She’s 31, had a break for injury and back with a new lease of life and genuine hunger to make the most of what is left. She’s shot up the rankings this year and she’s available at 40s for the win. I think she’ll go far. Serena’s in the other half of the draw but she’s showing nerves at overtaking Graf so if she does reach the final she may have extra vulnerability and Svetlana is cold and hard on court. There may be some other value in her. I haven’t looked.

        Naomi is a dark horse. She’s an 18 year old japanese but has a haitian father so she’s not the delicate flower often associated with japanese players. She can give it some biff. John Rawling said he shared a hotel with her fitness coach who also trained Sharapova before her first Wimbledon (2005?, 17 years old) and he says she’s as good as Maria was then. She’s come through 2 rounds already and is available at 500/1 for the title. In the bottom half of the draw. She’s likely to face Halep if she gets to the fourth round. That might be worth a small investment. There could be some value there.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Andy was very strange yesterday. He was playing a lot of percentage tennis. He didn’t hit hard enough or deep enough for a couple of sets while Bourgue went for his shots and seemed to make them all. I prefer Andy when he’s more aggressive. I expect his other matches to be similar unless he starts taking some initiative. Also his second serve is still week.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Rafa looks in very good nick and Djoka looked a bit vulnerable at times today but it’s early days. Djoka is a remarkable player and competitor and one always worries about Rafa’s knees. Given Andy’s frailties in the first two rounds Stan doesn’t sound like a bad bet, but then they all make sense when you place them.

        That’s why I’m looking at the women. They’re a lot less predictable (outside of Serena) and I do love a long shot.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Just realised Naomi Osaka is playing Simona Halep tomorrow in the third round. It’s probably goodbye to my £1 each way but I can hope…..

      • Jessica Hamby

        Naomi Osaka lost in 3 to Simona Halep. She won the first and frustrated Halep enough to get her smashing a racket but didn’t have the experience to get the crowd on her side and really rattle Simona. She’s got a few holes in her game too. She’s reluctant to come to the net (perhaps wisely, her volleying needs work). Her movement needs work too. She needs to learn to slide on clay. On a hard court she’ll be a better proposition imo. Keep an eye out for her in the US Open. She may upset a few higher ranked players before she goes out when she has solid ground underfoot and her odds for a two horse race are likely to be favourable.

        Lucie Safarova also lost (to Sam Stosur I think) but Svetlana Kuznetsova went through in 2. She’s my only financial interest now, a small each way at 40/1. Her 4th round opponent is Garbine Muguruza. She beat Muguruza the only time they played and is ranked 7 on the road to Singapore compared to Muguruza’s 17, so is the form player. Should she reach the semi she’s likely to play Halep or Radwanska (6 and 4 respectively on the road to Singapore).

        Haven’t been following Madison Keyes but she’s playing Puig today who is ranked in the 40s. If it goes to form she should win but being in the same half of the draw as Serena (and Venus) stands against her imo.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Currently watching a replay of Osaka vs Halep. I agree with your analysis, Jessica. Excellent point about hard courts. One to watch, as you say.

          I ended up backing Madison EW (at 25s, I think). I was a bit staggered that of all tournaments to be backing her in I should be backing her at the French. She’s my Wimbledon tip…but she’s fit and well (touch wood), has changed her tactics (hitting from further back) on clay, on song that Kvitova-like forehand of hers is absolutely fearsome (her cross-court backhand’s not shabby either), and I thought I would try to strike while the iron is hot. Have just took 18s EW as well.

          She’s hardly the finished article, and as you say there’s top players in her half of the draw, but that’s all factored into the price, I’d say.

          I backed Stan, was staggered when BF Sportsbook then offered him at 16s (backed him again) and was delighted to see him wear down the v dangerous Troicki (who unluckily for him seemed to suffer from a groin injury late into the match). However, am cursing the events that have benefited Stan’s rivals.

          Have become more and more interested in the first quarter and am focusing in on Serena vs Elina. Elina has never beaten Serena (who just won Rome to finally get back in the winner’s circle) but I’m liking the 4/1 for Elina to win the 1st set, 7/1 for her to win the match, and the set exacta of 20/1 for Elina to WLW. Will probably go 2 points win Elina for the 1st set, 1 point win the match, and 1 point win the exacta.

          I was wondering if this match would come to fruition, though would have preferred it if had come later in the tournament…but never mind. It’s as much as a bet on Henin as it is on Elina.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Madison has a long-standing elbow problem. If the rain means she has to play 3 or even 4 days in a row it may flare up again (same with Radwanska’s shoulder). It’ll be interesting to see what she learned from the Serena match in Rome if they play again. I get the feeling though that Madison and Sloane Stephens are (a bit like Maria Sharapova) players that Serena really wants to beat. She relishes her spot as US #1 and they’ll probably have to prise it from her cold, dead hands.

            Djoka was struggling this morning. Rain delay after he lost the first set probably did him a favour. I think the rain could cause a few upsets. Fitness and stamina are going to have added importance with heavier ground, heavier balls and more frequent matches. The courts and the balls will feel and play differently and some players might find the sitting around and uncertainty plays on their minds.

            I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen in the women’s now. Serena is still an obvious favourite. Muguruza was very good against Kuznetsova (the telly said it was the best she’d played this year). I was expecting more from Radwanska and Halep but they’ve both struggled this morning. Aggie was one set and 3-0 up and lost the second set before being rained off. It’s going to get interesting. I’d like that american, Shelby, to win but with my predictive record that’s probably a kiss of death.

            Good luck with Stan and Madison. I’m not backing anyone else for this tournament but my bets are strctly for fun, not for profit.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            That’s a fabulous point about Serena being particularly motivated to beat Sloane and Madison et al. I’d never thought of that.

            Yes, you’re right about a sequence of playing days maybe hurting Madison. I’ve backed her twice previously and each time she subsequently broke down with a flare up of an old injury or weak area (in that tournament)! I’ll look on the bright side and consider the rain delays as acting like a mid-tourney rest and recuperation pit stop.

          • Jessica Hamby

            I think the psychological impact of the rain is more likely to be negative for the top players. Novak and Serena are particularly used to having the world rearrange itself for their benefit. Muguruza only had her big breakthrough at Wimbledon last year so she can probably still remember what it was like as a lower ranked player. She seems be down-to-earth as well as being in great physical condition. Outside Serena she is my favourite.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Simona Halep is the first rain casualty. She was 5-2 up when they went in on Sunday. Lost 7-6 (7-0), 6-3.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Radwanska gone too.

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            A complete hunch, this one, but I’ve had a sudden fancy for Gasquet to beat Murray 3-1. Backed that and Gasquet to win the match.

          • Jessica Hamby

            You’re braver than me. I follow the women’s game more than the men’s but Andy seems to be getting stronger as the tournament progresses. Having said that Gasquet had a great last game and Andy can be umpredictable. He could have a sulk or a mini meltdown and chuck it away. The crowd will not be on his side. The odds were probably good too, given it’s a two horse race.

            I’m interested in Venus Williams. I won’t back her because she’s in the same half of the draw as her sister and (assuming the final is still Saturday) she’s going to have to play every day which might he too much for her but it’s interesting that she’s such long odds given her seeding and her ranking. Madison will also have to play every day which doesn’t bode well for her elbow yet she’s 3rd or 4th favourite. Shelby Rogers and Pironkova are shorter and they both came into the tournament ranked over 100.

            I might have a small each way on Venus for Wimbledon. If she’s going to have a last hurrah then surely that’s where it will be. She won it five times but she’s never won the French.

          • Jessica Hamby

            On the bright side you’ve still got Stan Wawrinka.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Looks like Shelby Rogers was the value in the women’s draw. I’d be surprised if anyone saw her coming. Prior to this week her best ranking was 70. I don’t know what the odds were on her to reach the last eight but would guess in the hundreds to one. Kuznetsova went out in two.

  • Dazzle

    Top 3 this year beau, Richard and Wayne is my prediction. I think Wayne will just take it. Likeable and the whole being ill will do wonders I think. The producers want either Richard, beau and 100 voices top 3 but Wayne’s the problem and I think they will just run with it.

  • Jessica Hamby

    How did Danny Beard not come last? The mask, the geometric costume, a full-on red and blacking, the sinister feel, the cheesy song, the buzzer from Simon, the irrelevant comments apart from the overblown “classically trained” comment about his voice. I’d be amazed if members of his family voted for him. It was like an Alice-In-Wonderland nightmare sequence.

    • Martin

      Don’t forget the fire, Jess!

      I think Simon’s comments were too harsh – I know I felt sorry for him after that comprehensive hatchet job. It was pretty ruthless, and his tears afterwards may have spiked a bit of sympathy.

      It was a curiously entertaining show last night. The pimping of Tumar KR, only to bin them off for Balance at the end was a bit of a curve ball, but they may as well have said “I’m choosing Balance because he’s British and they aren’t” when they were giving their reasons for keeping him.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I forgot the tears and the fire.

        I only caught the show from Vox Fortuna. What I saw looked like total annhilation (and in Danny & the magician’s case, rubbish acts) for Beau to win. Comments about Tumar KR that I remember are that they were “weird” and made people feel uncomfortable. I think they were binned for Balance because they could be a genuine threat – what with being talented, creative, original and all.

        I didn’t see Balance’s audition but I didn’t like yesterday’s effort much. It wasn’t funny, the music was cheesy and dated (anyone see the “brick” mobile phone) and the styling was cringe.

        Boogie Storm are similar. They’re no threat to anyone. The joke was tired by half way through their audition. By the final it won’t be funny at all and you can bet the routine will labour it to the point of irritation. But they’re stormtroopers. But they dance. See? Stormtroopers. Dancing. Dancing stormtroopers. They’re stormtroopers that dance.

        It would be great if they took off their helmets and turned out to be the cast of Strictly Come Dancing but they’re a bit too rubbish for that to be likely.

        • Martin

          Personally, I expected the orchestra through last night over Tumar KR (is that their name? I can’t remember), although the show made no effort to ensure that happened. That orchestra could have easily been given a pimp slot performance. If they didn’t want creativity in the final, I’m not really sure why they pimped the contortionists, other than the orchestra may have eaten into Beau’s votes. Puzzling all around really.

          Moving forward into tonight’s semi final – many seem to be assuming that Jasmine Elcock (Ant and Dec’s golden buzzer) and Lucy & Trip Hazard the dog will be going through? After Jules and Matiesse’s abysmal performance on the result show last night (which Simon didn’t even bother applauding), I’m not entirely sure that the producers will be keen to encourage another dog act. Other viable options seem to be the Presentation School Choir (although with 1000 Voices already through with massive producer favour, they could be pulled into question) and Craig Ball the singing impressionist has a bit of social media support. Would be good for variety, but I think response to him, again, is entirely producer dependent.

  • Jessica Hamby

    The two factors are an entertaining show and a desireable result. Public feeling is against Jules after the scandal last year and a lot of people think she cheated so I’m not surprised Simon chose to be seen to side “with the people”. If she was popular she’d be on the final and get a 4 judge standing ovation.

    Don’t discount another dog in the final. Jules’ effort will probably make this one look good in comparison plus it’s unlikely to win again so it’ll be easy to get the desired winner.

    I haven’t watched much of this series so can’t offer a prediction but if last night was anything to go by the judges will be earning their money with irrelevant comments, faint praise, little squabbles and sex jokes. The contestants will be lucky if they’re merely given no help by the producers.

    David Walliams’ quiet, dead-pan destruction of the magician’s (admittedly already poor) act really was something, wasn’t it.

  • Martin

    To be honest, anything to do with dogs on this show in the past few years has been riddled with scandal. There was the talking poodle last year who brought some cruelty allegations with him. The puppies on BGMT was criticised this week, and the public ill-feeling towards Jules has eclipsed her winning. If I were producing, I’d be keen to ensure the public forgot all about that as soon as possible, but I can see why they’d want to reverse that mindset by supporting a new dog act.Judging by the show last night, and the general consensus that Beau is now Plan A, I wouldn’t be wanting Jasmine through and I’d be pushing the singing impressionist, but this week has shown that the acts are at the mercy of the running order and judges comments, even moreso than usual.

    David Walliams has been quite the master of smiling and twisting the knife simultaneously this year.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I haven’t seen Jasmine. I guess it depends on if the producers have a favourite and if so, are they convinced they can get her across the line against the other one. Given the wanton destruction from last night I wouldn’t bet against them, especially if they control song choice and arrangement.

      I’m quite looking forward to it now.

  • Score

    Given the acts Ant just read out, it sounds like Presentation School Choir are getting the pimp slot.

    Jasmine was very good but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her edged out by Trip Hazard and Presentation (or even Craig Ball if he pulls something good out of the bag).

  • Jessica Hamby

    Did the Togni Brothers make a mistake? Why didn’t the judges or Ant & Dec mention it? Good of David to keep focus on their skill and not drift off into pantomime innuendo.

  • Alan

    Yes the one on top lost his balance and fell on his brother. It wasnt a complete disaster, he was trying to stand on is brothers feet, wobbled for quite a while then fell. Unbelievably difficult what they did but not entertaining at all in my opinion. And I thought the impressionist was terrible too. Not in the slightest bit funny.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Sorry. I was being sarcastic (a fault of mine) about the judges and the way they kept reminding us of it in their comments and then David went on his “bottom” joke and had a faux row with Simon who “tried to stop him”.

  • Jessica Hamby

    My interpretation of that is that they don’t want Jasmine to go through. My guess is they want the choir to win with Chloe and Craig top 3 and Craig to go through.

    • Sagand

      Chloe won’t come close to the top three. It be Jasmine, the choir and the dog.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Fair enough. I did find her kind of irritating, and a little disturbing to he honest.

        Who do you think will get through from your top 3?

        • Sagand

          Irritating was what they were going for. I think Jasmine will win and the choir go through, but wouldn’t really be surprised with any combination.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Really. I thought there was a lack of enthusiasm from the judges about Jasmine and Simon did link her with the word “irritating”. We’ll find out in a minute.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Well I’m glad I didn’t bet on that!!!!

            But I did get the comedian right. He got so much help from having the pictures of who he was doing behind him it was unreal. Without those he may well tumbleweed.

            Good call on Jasmine and the dog. The voters seem to love dogs.

          • Sagand

            I guess I was biased against the impressionist by the fact he was awful.

            With so many singing acts in the final Richard Jones will have the variety vote all to himself, should walk to victory from here. It’ll be a big win for me, I tipped him pre first audition.

          • Martin

            Sagand, I think you’re spot on with Richard – I wish I’d got invested in this year as early as you did. Depending on the odds tomorrow I may throw a few quid at him myself if it’s worth it.

          • Jessica Hamby

            He was dreadful, but he got a massive pimping from the judges, the song is very popular and he had huge help from the background. The dog act’s red stairs were a bit distracting and personally I didn’t like the choir much at all. I don’t know if calling them “wholesome” was intended to be a good thing but for me that was the death knell.

            Good luck with your bet. I don’t have any financial interest in this at all.

          • Sagand

            They also mentioned the choir being Irish several times, in previous series that along with the pimp slot would have been enough. I guess the app has diluted regional votes a bit.

          • Jessica Hamby

            I’ve not watched a lot of the series but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the dog win it again. If they can get that impressionist to the top of the pile then they’ve got this on a string – unless he was a mistake.

  • Martin

    I really liked Craig Bell the singing impressionist. Not all of his act was spot on, but he was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise awful show. He came across as a nice young man (see also; Balance and Wayne the swing singer) and he had the living day lights pimped out of him. I don’t think the pictures behind him was too out of the ordinary because he did it at his audition too.

    I have to say I am surprised that the Togni Brothers didn’t get more of a sympathy boost after the accident (which seemed suspicious after it was highlighted as happening in rehearsals during their Vt, and the judges were somehow all on message). I was amazed to see Jasmine through – I read her early slot, and the pimping of Craig, the Togni brothers and even the choir as trying to keep a lid on her for Beau’s sake. By voting her through on a judges vote rather than letting the public choose on a split decision (for the second night in a row) I’m assuming she came third and so may not be a danger to Beau anyway. Or they just aren’t particularly fussed either way. I can’t really tell what’s going on this year if I’m being totally honest.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Apart from Craig I’ve never seen any impressionists use pictures of their subjects. They use facial expressions and specific physical tics to make them identifiable. l honestly don’t think he’s very good. He reminded me of an act I saw once which was a bloke at a piano playing theme songs to popular tv shows and getting the audience to sing along. It was fun but there wasn’t really any substance to it and it had no great creativity. Craig doesn’t really create a routine. He just does a song in funny voices.

      • Martin

        I get what you’re saying. I think the “USP” (if you will) is what David pointed out – we don’t hear a lot of these characters actually singing and he was effectively doing two acts in one (to varying degrees of success). The impressions themselves weren’t particularly fantastic, but I think the comments were pitched so perfectly to maximise Craig’s vote. David pointing out what I mentioned above, Simon specifically signalling that kids will love the act (motivating them and their parents to vote, plus no other real fun, child friendly act last night – no dinosaurs, storm troopers or polar bears) and also appealing to everybody else that somebody singing impressions was something that we’ve never ever seen before on the show, emphasizing the variety aspect. It obviously worked on me!

        • Jessica Hamby

          It definitely worked but I’m not sure many children would be watching at that time on a school night. The pimping was off the charts and pictures of Kermit, Piggy, Shrek etc probably bestow popularity by proxy. Simon felt obliged to say “you’re good” and just about begged for votes. But it definitely worked.

          I think he’d do well with an audience of drunks if he changed the words of the songs and threw a few cuss words in. Kermit swearing is probably very funny if you’re drunk.

          • How was the pimping off the charts? Not one of the judges gave him a standing ovation. I think they predicted he wouldn’t even be top 3 and were surprised that he won.

          • Jessica Hamby

            For all that it’s quite minimal, the staging is very helpful. He’s at the centre of the sunburst, the faces of his subjects are shown and the music is well arranged and supports his vocal.

            I tried to find something with the judges comments in but I couldn’t. However my recollection is that they were incredibly positive and helpful to the point that I posted at the time I thought he would go through. I know Simon didn’t give him a standing ovation but Simon’s comments were totally supportive, actively asking for votes and justifying it by saying (with as much sincerity as he can manage) “you’re good” at the end. I can’t recall whether the others stood or not but the overwhelming impression I got was very positive indeed.


  • Jessica Hamby

    This may have judges comments in but I can’t watch it. If someone else is able to (from outside the UK?) can you report back on comments?

  • “I can’t recall whether the others stood or not”. You don’t have to, because I’ve already said that none did, and neither did the audience, and it was the most muted applause of any SF.

    However, otherwise, I do agree with your points about the judges’ positivity. The comments were fantastic and he is after all only one of the 5 SF winners out of the 12 finalists.

    I think we will find that his SF was the closest though. And I can’t see where he goes from here. Any ideas? I think it might be a rehash. He actually said on BGMT that he was worried for the final because he put everything into the semi.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I’ve not backed anyone. I came into the series late. I find it hard to believe that they want him to win the series. I would have thought it would be easy to limit his vote. A less helpful or even ugly / jarring background, a less well-known song, showing the pictures after he starts singing each line (they did it before he started each line in the semi and that prepped you to recognise his impression) and then neutral, end of journey comments with a dicussion amongst the judges about which one of them is Kermit and which is Donkey and his mid-level finish should be assured.

      I think the song was a great help. It’ll be hard to find another as effective.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I do wonder why the pimping. Was it to keep the Togni brothers or the choir out of the top 3? Was he meant to win or did he pick up more votes than intended?

        To my mind he is a one gag act, like the Stormtroopers, and the gag actually obscures his ability to some extent.

  • Oskar

    Feel free to join there next ESC year in mind!
    Oh, and I apologize if sharing links etc. is forbidden in this website. 🙂

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Anyone been following and betting on Euro 2016?

    After my run of rubbish tennis bets, I took stock and waited for the first few matches of the footy to be payed before getting involved.

    Bets so far have been on POTT, where I took 50/1 for Modric and for Kante. Just had a large bet on Iniesta at 12s in the same market.

    Might back Srna at 25s for 1st GS in the upcoming Croatia vs Czech Rep game. There’s tempting prices for this v interesting Croatia side to score a hat-full in this match, too.

    In US Open golf, took 500/1 for Wilkinson, 100/1 for Leishman and the same price for Simpson.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Been in again for Iniesta at 10s and 8s, have a lot of money riding on him now, so here’s hoping.

      Hadn’t realised Sullivan was playing (feeling of dismay) so have jumped in on him at what was left, the 45s (now 40s).

      Would double them up but that bet’s not available at the moment and might not be available anyway.

      • stoney

        Hi guildo
        I have been on Payet at 8’s since he lit up the first France match. Being a westham fan I’m kicking myself at not getting on the pre tournament odds
        I’ve also gone 10s ew on croatia to win the tournament

  • Jessica Hamby

    Hi Guido
    Have you done anything on Wimbledon? Serena looks in great condition but I’m not touching her at her odds. Venus looks good to reach a semi-final (bottom half of the draw). Dominika Cibulkova is in great form but in Serena’s half. I’ve gone £1 each way on Kuznetsova at 100/1 but it’s a completely speculative punt. I have no faith in it. Halep, Keyes and Kerber are all in the 3rd quarter of the draw and any of them could come through to the semi. Can’t call that at all.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Kuzentsova has already fallen to 66/1.

      Thinking about the Halep / Keyes / Kerber conundrum I think it’ll be Halep as long as she doesn’t have an on-court tantrum. I think she’s got a great chance of making the final and Serena has shown mental fragility since the US last year. With potential games against Kuznetsova and Cibulkova to come she’s not going to have it easy. Whatever happens it’s going to be interesting.

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