Stevi Ritchie is back as a wildcard – after Cheryl Fernandez-Versini added him to Simon Cowell’s Overs category – but the self-proclaimed ‘Dancing Dad’ doesn’t seem to think he’s on for the win, saying he’s already tipped another act for the top prize.
“I know who the winner is already,” Stevi tells us very confidently backstage at the X Factor.
But then he slightly crumbles.
“Honestly? I’ve got two in mind. Can I say two?”
Ah, there we were thinking Stevi had the inside track, knew something we all didn’t…
“I think it’s a toss up between Andrea [Faustini] and Paul [Akister] if I’m honest,” he says, naming two people from Mel’s Boys’ category.
But Stevi can’t quite stop there.
“It could be the eight-piece boy band and Fleur… I don’t know. It’s going to be a very tight ship. But there’s my final two [Paul and Andrea].
“Certainly not me,” he laughs.
Away from winning, Stevi was delighted just to be brought back into the competition admitting he’d had “a proper cry” earlier. “I’m not being funny, I proper did,” he chuckles, saying, “I’ve been watching [X Factor] for ten years solid. I’m 34 years old, I’m getting older and uglier and I just never thought in a million years I’d be on that stage. And it hits you like that. Of course the cameras had to zoom in on me like that [he mimes a camera], didn’t they?”
But he’s pretty sure mentor Simon Cowell was pleased to see him.
“Do you know what, Simon came to the house the other day and he was so pleased to see me and I was so chuffed to see him, you know. He’s like a second father. I love the guy. So down to earth. I’m so happy to be back in the competition with Simon.
“I feel Simon does like me and I love him,” he adds.
Stevi’s influence on the house (which the contestants share) has certainly been felt, especially when he donned a green mankini and had a little dance…
“When someone gives you a dare, or Xtra Factor say ‘Can we do this, that or the other’, I thought sod it. In order to stand out, I’m going to do it. So I did. I wore this mankini. I was just going around the house like normal and everyone was laughing at me.”
So – the big question – would he throw it on for a live show performance?
“I was thinking about that. But it’s a family show. Hopefully I’d get the votes then, because I probably won’t get many!”