BGT 2017: The Post-Mortem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31 comments to BGT 2017: The Post-Mortem

  • Alan

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

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

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

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

  • markovs

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

    • Chris Bellis

      Really worse than that. It’s very poor indeed. I’ve just been on a Spanish holiday (don’t blame me, it was very cheap) and every act at the holiday complex was better than anything on X-Factor. And no, it’s not the San Miguel talking.

  • 360

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Stoney

    Naďal federer final is looking like the bet of the summer. Jumped on at 6/1 at the weekend. I’ve also got Fed to win the final but Nadal was looking very strong today. Looks like he might be ready to return to his best on grass for a change.

  • James Martin

    Ah, that awkward bit between Eurovision and X Factor.

    Anyway, here seems the best place to discuss proposed changes: contestants being allowed to sing their own compositions (pinch of salt required) and live shows being cut from 10 to 6, with performances and eliminations on both Saturday and Sunday.

    Am I the only one thinking they need to rip-off Melodifestivalen a bit and have four or five pools/heats, a second chance round then a big final? And, with Fountain gone, have it go to a different arena each week instead?

    Gosh. It’s a bleak day when Christer Bjorkman is considered a better producer than Cowell.

    • 360

      Only reason they’ll be cutting live shows is if they want more control for some reason, and possibly also if they’ve seen their budget slashed again which wouldn’t be surprising considering the continued fallin ratings.

      They either need to commit to change the format completely, or stick with the classic as much as possible. I’d lean towards the latter; it’s what’s working on Strictly, and every year demographics leads more and more to that’s who will be in and watching their TV at that time of night. Less and less young people even have a TV, so the ones they’re hitting now will be those who watch as a family probably.

      The big sell of X Factor as a TV show is to watch the journey of contestants, to go from being ‘someone off the street’ to a superstar. Unfortunately, XF seems to’ve lost sight of that over the last few years, trying to pack in more and more pizzazz and less and less ‘reality’ segments.

      I’m wondering if we’re getting to the point with XF now that, like BGT, they won’t actually care so much who wins. Certainly Louisa Johnson aside – and Fleur East, to a degree, they haven’t put that much effort into the careers of any of the winners OR runners-up over the last few serieses.

      • Phil

        They ducked their opportunity to change the format completely in the Nick Grimshaw year. I still think that Nick and Rita were excellent that year and Nick in particular was unfairly scapegoated for the fall in ratings. The show had 2 new young judges, new hosts, yet then just ran as the same old show as ever.

        However, they seem hell bent on sticking to a formula, having the same characters each year but played by a different cast. It may not be great for the show, but at least them doing this makes it much easier for us to know what they are up to and where the money can be made. A live show lineup made up of 12 talented contestants with an equal shot of winning would be difficult to call. The same old 12 characters they always cast makes it relatively easy to plot out what is going to happen.

  • James Martin

    Linking our two favourite shows…

    What do we reckon the odds are on Saara Alto either…

    A) Returning to UMK for a third crack
    B) Being in the final six on You Decide?

    I think either way the chances of her turning up in Lisbon next summer must be quite high?

  • R

    2016 Matt Terry (male) – I didn’t watch, but assume it was a straight forward white male win.

    2015 Louisa (female) – Show had to nuke all the other contestants to get the female solo winner over the line.

    2014 Ben Haenow (male) – easy win for the white male. They even had time to push Fleur into second.

    2013 Sam Bailey (female) – All others nuked to get the female over the win.

    2012 James Arthur (male) – had to fight for his win, but it was an all male final, with Chris Maloney massively nuked to stop him winning.

    2011 Little Mix (female) – Female group replacement winners, where everyone was nuked to ensure them the win.

    2010 Matt Cardle (Male) – Pretty easy win for the white male in the Rupert the Bear trousers.

    If we continue the pattern of the last few years, we should have an interesting show from a manipulation perspective, but with a lot of weak acts to ensure a female winner.

    • 360

      I would imagine this year they’ll be pushing strongly for anything BUT a white male win as they already have Terry on their books, Arthur returned to the fold, and 4 of the 5 One Direction boys fitting that mold and jostling for prominence in the music scene right now.

      • R

        Very true. That’s why the show will be more interesting this year. Especially if the bookies give better odds for the other contestants.
        The manipulations will also be more obvious as the show has to push the winner more to ensure the win and pick weak acts for the male category.

  • James Martin

    Looks like we Sofabetters might have a familiar face on the show again this year. Lots of sources reporting Slavko, the Montnegrian entry at this year’s Eurovision (wacky ponytail, didn’t qualify) is at least at judges houses.

    Talking of Eurovision, are we getting a new set at LH2? The Florian Wieder designed one is very tired, and he’s cloned it for at least three Eurovision sets now.

  • CONFIRMED: Slavko auditions. Don’t know his fate beyond that.


    Venue: MEO Arena, Lisbon
    SF 1: Tue 8 May
    SF 2: Thu 10 May
    FINAL: Sat 12 May

  • Simon Cowell confirms that themes are going, reverting to a more anything-goes approach of the first two series.

    It also means the death of that bloody jukebox.

    • 360

      We’ll see how that works out.

      Themes have essentially been gone since about series 4 or 5 anyway. Little Mix performing Kesha and Push It in Rock Week? 1D performing Kids in America for American Songs Week? Or even some of the ‘themes’ last year:

      ‘Express Yourself’…with songs we’ve chosen to represent you
      ‘Divas’ week featuring Michael Jackson, Vanilla Ice and Bjork
      Honey G’s song for ‘Movie Week’ being from Keith Lemon: The Movie. I mean, really?

  • Categories revealed;

    Simon – Groups
    Nicole – Overs
    Sharon – Girls
    Louis – Boys

  • Phil

    Slavko reportedly through to judges houses. Think it’s fair to assume he’ll be through to the live shows too, playing this year’s Wagner character (which they seem determined to cast each year, not realising that part of his magic was the lack of self awareness but huge amount of integrity – the exact opposite of what they have tried to copy him with).

    • James Martin

      Could be interesting. Although he didn’t qualify he is used to this sort of show, and he’s got a sizeable gay following from Eurovision already. The caveat of course is that the semis are very much “hard-core fan” territory in the UK, hence they’re ghettoised on BBC Four.

      • He made it to judges’ houses on X Factor Adria but got sent home by Zeljko. (I doubt Nicole will show as much taste.) Though he did come back twice later to perform as a guest artist.

        I’m not keen on the idea of him being Rylan 2.0 this year, but in terms of upsides, I at least hope a) he gets to perform something off his album and/or in his own language, ie. some recognisably Balkan electropop, not just Western covers b) the UK gets a version of this performance:

  • From land of promise comes new gambling opportunity!

  • James Martin

    X Factor confirmed to return a week Saturday.

  • Stoney

    Anyone interested in this years series?
    Wide open at this stage. The lost voice guy would be my winner at the moment especially if we have 2 opera singers in the final

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