BGT 2018 Post-Mortem

The BGT voting percentages allow us to reverse-engineer what producers were thinking when they put together Sunday’s show. Our conclusion: they got the 1-2 they’ll have expected. Lost Voice Guy won his semi with an impressive 40.5%, almost double his nearest rival. We assume they’ll have been confident he would win the final from the middle of the running order.

The semi-final percentages don’t give us all the information producers will have been seeing – they will also be able to compare levels of interest across the five semis. But we can make a rough attempt to reverse-engineer this by comparing how the finalists from each night did in the final: Monday’s acts between them got 28.1% of the vote in the final, Tuesday’s got 17.4%, Wednesday’s 28.4%, Thursday’s 13.3%, and Friday’s 12.8%.

So it looks like the strongest semis were LVG’s (Monday) and Robert White’s (Wednesday). The weakest were Friday’s (Micky P Kerr) and Thursday’s (DVJ). That helps to explain why producers were happy to put Micky on so late – they’ll have been confident he wasn’t going to capitalise on it. (Plus, presumably they’d have seen his routine in the rehearsals.) Similarly, they’ll have been sanguine that they could safely give Donchez the pimp slot for a feelgood ending to the show.

While DVJ aroused much interest in the market and the Sofabet comments section, with the benefit of stat-hindsight we can see they were never at the races. In retrospect, Cowell’s comments about them being “underdogs” and how it would be a “surprise” if they won look like expectations management – producers might conceivably have hoped they could sneak a podium, but surely no more than that.

It’s always an interesting exercise to compare the relative votes of acts in the semis and the final, which can often help to quantify the impact of the running order – although of course that’s not the only thing that changes. In Monday’s semi, for example, the D-Day Darlings were in the pimp slot and LVG doubled their vote; in the final they were in the death slot and LVG trebled it.

Gruffyd Wyn got the pimp slot on Wednesday, and Robert White got about 25% more votes; in the final, with Gruffyd on 8th of 11, Robert increased that margin to about 50%. Similarly, on Thursday the pimp slot helped DVJ to a roughly 25% margin over Jack and Tim; without the pimp slot in the final, that margin was halved.

The biggest differences were on Tuesday and Friday. Donchez bested Calum by a margin of about 50% in the semi, then trebled his vote in the final, having got the pimp slot both times. Micky P Kerr’s vote fell off a cliff in the final despite a better running order position, from just ahead of the pimp-slotted Giangs in the semi to only about a third of their vote in the final. Presumably the presence of two funnier comics in the final is enough to explain this.

We reckon TPTB played the running order smartly on Sunday – they got the winner they wanted, while not needing to be too blatant about it. If any of next year’s acts get grumpy behind the scenes about being given an early slot, producers can point to the final 1-2 having come from 6th and 4th of 11. They can also point to three podium finishes in the semis for acts that performed 3rd, and one from 1st, though it’s debatable how planned they were.

With the X Factor the next big event on the Sofabet calendar, a final thought for fellow staging-subliminals aficionados: we’re always intrigued by staging effects we can’t remember seeing before that seem intended to be unhelpful. In the #2 slot on Thursday, opera singer Amy Marie Borg got one that’s new on us – let’s call it the Olympic Rings of Doom:

It struck us as somehow threatening, but we couldn’t put our finger on the connotations. Maybe a chandelier that’s about to fall on her, or an alien spaceship that’s about to beam her up? We were just debating the feeling it was meant to evoke when Cowell said to her: “Sometimes a stage like this can swallow you up”. Fascinating.

We also very much enjoyed the routine of dancer Shameer Mayes in Monday’s #3 slot. One of our pet theories is that a circular cage of light can have the effect of trapping an act and making it harder for them to connect with an audience, so Shameer’s battle with the lighting could almost have been an interpretive dance: act versus staging.

We’d love to see this concept extended. Maybe next year an interpretive dancer could do a routine in which they smash a high plinth, tame scattered searchlights into a single spotlight focused on them, wrestle a red-and-black palette into blue-and-gold, pull a wide-angle camera shot into a close-up on their face, and so on.

Let us know your continued thoughts below, and we look forward to seeing you for more fun and games in the autumn.

22 comments to BGT 2018 Post-Mortem

  • Stoney

    Agree with everything in this piece Andrew. Was definately a shrewd move placing LVG in that slot. 2 performances after Robert. That for me shows he was the chosen one. And they would have known that this would be highly likely in seeing them finish where they did.
    As always with these contests we are betting according to the producers intentions. Apart from a few tricky semi finals everything has been pretty straight forward this year.

  • Chris Bellis

    “Olympic Rings of Doom” – great idea! It did look like a scene from a 1950s science fiction film.

  • Scott Reid

    I was genuinely confused by Micky P Kerr’s performance in the final. He was always an of a previous generation comic and I always figured I wasn’t the target audience, but he seemed horrendously off during the final. Is this a situation in which being later on in the running order is actually worse – because people have seen far funnier acts before you?

    • Stoney

      I said at the time the reason they put him on so late was that his semi final vote wasn’t that great. I think they probably regret not seeing him off in the comments after he performed. There was literally a few % between him and 3rd place in the semi. He had absolutely no chance in winning.
      Im guessing they put him on in a late slot to balance things out and as a good will gesture after trying to bury him in the semi.

      • Chris Bellis

        He had the one good joke about Andy Murray’s mum. They brought her into the audience for the final and the whole thing misfired badly. They presumably thought he’d do the same or a similar joke, but he didn’t. As I’ve said before, I get to see all the comedy acts, and his act reminded me of Jasper Carrott (circa 1975). JC is still doing that act by the way, with some of the same jokes (they don’t work any more Jasper in case you’re reading this, especially the joke about stealing apples, which you’ve been doing since the dawn of time). No contest for the other two comics who were both original and current.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    “We’d love to see this concept extended. Maybe next year an interpretive dancer could do a routine in which they smash a high plinth, tame scattered searchlights into a single spotlight focused on them, wrestle a red-and-black palette into blue-and-gold, pull a wide-angle camera shot into a close-up on their face, and so on.”

    Love those ideas! PMBGT (Post-modern BGT). You never know …

    I think the idea behind your Olympic Rings Of Doom™️ (ace coinage, btw, Andrew) spot is a subtler equivalent to that of placing an empty chair either side of a performer, empty chairs that will not be filled: rendering a scene with an incomplete feel, an unsatisfying vibe. There should be a performer either side of the sole featured one, Amy Marie, on what is an (clearly) incomplete transporter platform, thus there’s no hope of anyone being beamed down into adjacent positions, yet there’s a suggestion of that expectation, from the trio of overlapping transporter rings above? Viewer feels unaccountably short-changed, perhaps. A 1 for the price of 3 promotion! Marketing’s shortest lived idea.

  • Despite Donchez from being from my part of the world “Shrewsbury! Telford! Wolverhampton!”, I still found it pretty sickening that he made the Top 3. Giang Brothers were robbed, and Gruffyd or DVJ in the Top 3 would’ve been much more deserving also. It never ceases to amaze me how the Great British Public can vote for absolute crap, and one should never underestimate the power of the pimp slot.

    • Chris Bellis

      Tim B
      It wasn’t just the pimp slot, he was pimped in every other way as well. What was that rubbish about him being 61, as though it was a miracle he was still alive? Sympathetic back story, totally positive comments, best dancers of any act, judges getting up and dancing, audience dancing, party streamers, lighting, triumphal entrance to the stage, in fact sympathetic staging in every way, they threw the lot at him. I would urge people to look at it again and compare the staging with that for the girl with the “Olympic Rings of Doom” standing alone on the stage. Even the tabloids picked up on the fact that the last slot was used to promote an eventual top 3, if not an actual winner, but when you add the incredible staging to that, TPTB clearly intended him to have a podium finish. That’s why I tipped him for top 3, not because he was better than Gruffyd or the Giang brothers – he wasn’t. As for the Great British Public, who was it who said nobody ever lost money by underestimating their intelligence.They voted for Scooch to go forward to Eurovision, don’t forget.
      On a more positive note, Donchez reminded me of my times in Jamaica dancing to Toots and the Maytals. Hard to feel miserable when you are listening to rocksteady. Plus everybody welcomes an AA man when they’ve broken down on the M42. So I’m glad he got a top 3 finish, even though there were better acts on the night. Made me a few quid anyway. Wish I’d bet a hell of a lot more on him.

  • Stoney

    When i look back at the voting stats my bet of the series was the 3/1 on LVG to win the opening semi. That got the ball rolling for a very good week. I made more on the outright but the semi final odds were incredible value when you see how easily he won.

    • Chris Bellis

      What was good about that Stoney is that you shared it with us. Up until that point I was thinking the public wouldn’t get it, even though I’d been going to comedy gigs where acts like that went down a storm, but they were mostly university venues. If I ever meet you I’ll buy you a drink! Take this as a virtual drink. Once I’d done a modicum of online research, I couldn’t understand why people didn’t see it, especially given all the online polls.

      • Stoney

        I think what made it even more of an impressive semi final romp was that he saw if the D Day darlings with absolute ease despite them having the pimp spot, the war veterans the judges fully backing them. At that point there was certainly a valid argument for them being plan A.

    • Which firm were 3/1 LVG to win Semi Final 1? Thanks

      • Stoney

        Bet365 13/5 if you want to split hairs. And I posted on here immediately after lumping on.

        • Chris Bellis

          I got 5/2 on Betfair soon after you tipped it Stoney, so next time PM me before posting on here (joke!)

          • Stoney

            I did put a post up on fb actually. I usually like to give people a heads up on my thoughts. Sometimes they win sometimes they don’t.
            I had a shocker last x factor but strictly was a huge win for me. This year im absoutely focused on nailing an x factor winner. My biggest regret from last year was thinking the cutkelvins would win. One of my worst calls ever.

  • Chris Bellis

    One of the good things about you Stoney is you do admit when you were wrong. Quite rare in this world. I’ve reviewed your tips over the years and you are far more often right than wrong. The cutkelvins had all the right credentials but were shafted by their own egos. It happens in the music business. Tossers really. They let themselves down as well as a load of punters. They could have won if they had played it right. The danger of families – see Oasis.

    • Stoney

      Thanks mate. As ive always said its not my day job, which is why i never lay books out to guarantee profit. That for me is just boring.
      They didn’t get the producer backing. The warning signs were there and somehow i refused to accept it. I still stand by my view that Raksu were no better but failed to see the glaringly obvious. 2 years in a row x factor has caused me problems. Its fast becoming my Achilles heal of reality betting. This year is not going the same way 🙂

  • Alan

    TPTB hit pretty much every target in last years XFactor, seemingly controlling the vote at their will. It would be a brave punter to bet against the chosen one in this coming series.

    • Chris Bellis

      Yes Alan. TPTB have perfected the art in X-Factor. If you want unpredictability you have to go for Eurovision, but that’s because so many countries have producers that are half crackers, eg France. Luckily on this site we know the tricks of TPTB. Andrew helpfully added yet another one: the Olympic Rings of Doom. If you play it back, you can see it. As I said earlier, compare that performance with Donchez, and the intentions of TPTB could not be more obvious.

      • Stoney

        You could also argue that tptb were clinical in bgt this series. I think only Mickey managed to scupper their plans. Im definately looking forward to seeing the olympic rings of doom in the x factor. I bet they wish they used them on Maloney all those years ago. Mind you im not sure they could put him away if the devil eyes didnt.

        • Chris Bellis

          I’d forgotten him. He came top of the public vote 7 out of 9 times, yet his single didn’t even make the top 100.

          • Stoney

            It was a painful watch seeing them chip away at him week after week. Similar to the take down of Andrea Faustini but Maloneys vote was a lot more resilient.

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