X Factor’s Lola explains that mic mishap – and that kiss from Ben Haenow

The latest of Cheryl’s girls to leave the competition laughs off pictures of Ben kissing her forehead and explains why she’s pleased she had a costume malfunction

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During Saturday night’s Halloween performance, wildcard Lola Saunders found herself caught up in her own microphone cable as she sang Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy. After she wound up in the sing-off with Stereo Kicks last night, mentor Cheryl Fernandez-Versini was quick to bring it up, although she noted the mishap was “no excuse”. It didn’t swing the vote, with an eventual deadlock seeing Lola the second act of the weekend to be eliminated from the competition, following Jack Walton. But actually, Lola’s pretty pleased it happened.

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“I started the performance sitting down, so when I stood up, this weight [her mic pack] just fell. So I had this thing throughout the whole performance swinging around me. But I thought, ‘Do you know what? I’ve worked so hard for this, I’ll ignore it’. I did everything I was supposed to do, even though I had this thing wrapped around my leg. It was hitting me left, right and centre. But I’m glad it happened, to know that I can get through something like that,” Lola tells RadioTimes.com.

She admits that backstage there seems to be a trend of the acts behaving strangely on the day they end up going home, and for her it was no different.

“The act that goes out always acts weird on the day. It’s so weird. Jack was like, ‘I just know’. He was being a bit funny and then he went [during Saturday’s extra elimination]. Then yesterday I was exactly the same and some of the team were saying it’s weird, it’s like this instinct that you’ve got.

“I think that’s why I was so composed because I’d prepared myself for it. Everyone’s got to leave the competition at some point.” 

In fact, Lola admits she’s pleased she’s gone out on a week when she was happy with her performance, but says the hardest thing is leaving everyone. “We are all really close. Stevi [Ritchie] and Ben [Haenow] were crying, myself, Paul [Akister]. It was just nice to get that reaction from everyone when I left.”

Talking of a certain Mr Haenow, pictures surfaced over the weekend of the overs singer planting a kiss on Lola’s forehead as they queued to pay in a local supermarket.

“Oh my god,” Lola laughs. “That’s so weird. I knew there was a queue behind but I didn’t realise that [a photo was taken].” Lola also notes that Ben had just done exactly the same thing to the male researcher from the show who was with them, but it wasn’t caught on camera.

“Basically, with Ben he’s so genuine. With everyone who works on the show he’s like ‘Come here’ and plants a big kiss on their forehead. He does it with everyone. He does it with the boys. He’s just a nice person.

“When we heard about that coming out. Ben’s girlfriend Jess and my boyfriend Jordan were just laughing about it. Jess was saying Ben’s really tactile. If he came in the room now he’d come over and give you all a big hug and a big kiss. That’s what he’s like. But he adores his girlfriend, it’s so lovely. Myself and Ben are in long-term relationships and not a lot of the other contestants are, so we had that connection.

“I walked in on Sunday and I was like, ‘Have you heard the news?’ and he just went, ‘I’m tactile’. And I said, ‘well we all know that!’ Every time we’d go for a hug on the Sunday he’d go, ‘Oh god, I can’t do that anymore!’ He just makes a laugh out of it.”

Lola thinks the other contestants would really suffer if Ben was voted out of the competition. “The house atmosphere would be like… thump! He’s a nice person to have around the house.”

After Lola and Jack’s exit, the only wildcard left in the competition is the loveable Stevi Ritchie. While he’s not got the best voice in the competition, he shows no signs of leaving. But what is it like to be up against him?

“If he wasn’t a nice man, it would be frustrating,” Lola admits. “But he wants this. If he came in and was more like, ‘I’m just coming in for laughs’, but Stevi genuinely wants it. He really does. He’s such a nice person. I’ve never caught him in a bad mood.”

And Lola admits he was in his element after his man-date with Simon Cowell at the Harvester restaurant. “Stevi was winding Jay [James] up. Jay was like, ‘I don’t understand how you get to go, but I don’t?’” Lola chuckles, adding, “But Stevi was in his element. I really hope Stevi gets far.”

So is this the end of Lola’s days working in a fishmongers?

“I’m going to go in there this weekend and get a toastie. They do some nice toasties. I love everyone at the fishmonger, but hopefully now I can move on. I’ve been there since I was 15. I think it’s time to move on.

“But if I am skint, I’m going to ask my boss to go back.”

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The X Factor continues next Saturday and Sunday on ITV