FACTOR was plunged into a new “fixing” storm last night as Dublin Tesco worker Mary Byrne was given the boot.
Angry viewers bombarded ITV1 with complaints and flooded websites, claiming the show was “more corrupt than Fifa”. (hahahahah I can't. Simon for FIFA president?)
They were furious after show bosses introduced a sing-off into the semi-finals – and claimed the judges should have saved Mary rather than teenager Cher Lloyd, who collapsed in tears.
Last year Danyl Johnson lost out in the semis after polling the lowest vote and the year before Diana Vickers was evicted after failing to impress the public.
But at the last minute this year X Factor announced a sing-off for the first time ever in the semi finals – giving the judges a chance to save an act.
Fans were outraged by the move, which was not mentioned before last night’s show.
It meant 17-year-old Cher went through despite the fact she could have polled the lowest vote of all the acts.
The decision to introduce the sing-off came so late that it was not even mentioned on the show’s official website.
Some viewers were also surprised at Dannii Minogue’s decision to save Cher – despite them regularly clashing on this series.
On website Digital Spy, fan Jamie Macdonald wrote: “The X Factor is more corrupt than Fifa.”
Even before the results another web user called Red Cherry, said: “This is such a fix – it’s obvious the judges are going to save Cher, and she knows it. At what stage in the show is it totally down to public vote for the bottom two?”
After the decision Athena 17 said: “OMG! I can’t believe this! They didn’t get the result they wanted, so they’re going to try and get rid of Mary.
“This is absolutely ridiculous. If this is how the X Factor is going to be here in the States then I am not watching.”
Another added: “I am not spending my money on this bulls*** of a show. This is a joke.”
Ads 84 said: “Absolute disgrace. They don’t care about the viewers.” And Blah Girl said: “Why did Dannii do as she was told and save Cher?”
Other forums included titles such as “Dannii succumbs to the puppet master” and “Is this the biggest fix in the history of the X Factor?”
One irate viewer who rang the Mirror claimed everyone who voted should get their money back. Jemma, 30, from Fulham, West London, said: “I’ve spent a lot of money voting and this just isn’t fair. Everyone who voted for Mary should get a full refund.”
Some fans also pointed out that host Dermot O’Leary had promised on Saturday’s show that the finalists would be decided solely by public vote.
He said: “The vote is now open, and will close in tomorrow night’s result show. It’s now all in your hands. Your votes and your votes alone can get your act safely through to the final.”
But Mary, 50, lost out when the judges decided they preferred Cher’s tearful sing-off version of Britney Spears’ Everytime to Mary’s feisty rendition of James Brown’s It’s a Man’s World.
Her departure leaves Cher, Matt Cardle, 27, teenage boyband One Direction and Rebecca Ferguson, 24, in the final battling for the coveted recording contract.
Though she put on a brave face in front of 15.2million viewers, pals revealed that Mary had foreseen her exit.
One said: “She has struggled on the show, and at times really felt the strain, but she really wanted to get through to the final because she is dreading going back to Tesco, and to the ordinary life she has in Dublin.
“On Saturday she cried, saying the song was her late mum’s favourite, but she was also emotional because she knew she didn’t sing it as well as she could and that the end was coming.”
Sources say Cheryl Cole was in tears after last night’s show, and claimed it was because the crowd booed Cher when she was in the bottom two. She was later seen being consoled by Simon Cowell.
An X Factor spokesman last night denied any suggestion of a fix, saying: “As a show evolves there are always changes to the format.” (read: we can change stuff when it suits us)
Strictly Come Dancing: Hello Dolly... goodbye Widdy: After ten unforgettable weeks Ann lumbers out of Strictly
When her time came, she said, she would bow out gracefully.
And while gracefulness was a little too much to expect from a self-confessed ‘dancing elephant’, Ann Widdecombe was certainly gracious as she was voted off Strictly Come Dancing last night.
The 62-year-old former Tory minister declared she had had ‘the time of my life’ being dragged around the dancefloor each week.
And as she waltzed out with her head held high, she claimed her time on Strictly had also inspired many older women to give dancing a whirl.
Viewers had forgiven her excruciating routines with Anton du Beke each week because were so entertaining but that popularity failed to carry her through another leaden performance on Saturday night’s show.
She told viewers: ‘I feel like I have had a jolly good time. This day was going to come, it has come, and they are delighted (the judges). It has been tremendous. Time of my life, it’s been fantastic!’
Later she said: ‘I’m not too upset, I have had ten very good weeks.
‘If you had told me at the beginning that I would last two and a half months – I would have laughed at you.
It is understood Miss Widdecombe’s time as a prime-time star is far from over. TV executives are keen to line up more projects for her, including documentaries on religion and politics. There is also talk of her being recruited as a roving reporter for The One Show. (don't say they didn't warn you).
First on the to-do list, however, will be slipping her dancing shoes back
on for the four-week Strictly Come Dancing national tour which starts next month.
Goodbye, Widdy. We hardly knew ye.
In other news, Stacey Solomon wins I'm a celebrity, get me out of here
Radio 4's unfortunate slip of the tongue thanks you for your time, which in the current climate is doubly unfortunate (hilarious?)
youtube. Sweariness contained within.: