Cowell dubs Six Chair Challenge “lion’s den” as crowd blasts his decisions

But the boss admits defeat and actually apologises as he brings fan favourite back...

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Simon Cowell has had a pretty tough day at the office, dubbing Wembley Arena a “lion’s den” as his decisions during today’s Six Chair Challenge were torn to pieces by a very vocal crowd. 

Whether it was cries to grant an act a “SEAT”, pleas to “SWAP” one act with another, or more simply, a dream-crushing chant of “OFF OFF OFF”, those watching the action weren’t too pleased with Cowell’s decisions.

His job today? Pick which six Overs acts would make it through to the next stage: live Judges’ Houses. As with the last two series, this stage of the competition sees the singers quite literally sing for a seat. Although even if they’re given one, it’s not game over as they aren’t safe until all singers have sung. Even then, as with today, an act can be brought back and switch up the final line-up once again. 

For the most part Cowell sat with his head in his hands. He took to throwing his hands up as the crowd wavered between liking an act, hating an act and simply getting bored and wanting to see another. Several times he looked to the ceiling as if the answer might be up there, admitting that he’d had a “nightmare” of a day. 

“Welcome to the lion’s den,” he huffed.

But it was an act that was sent packing that upset Wembley. I should point out that the act had been given a seat during yesterday’s filming, so most of us hadn’t heard the singer utter one syllable. But he looked like he’d be good and the crowd didn’t hesitate to tell Cowell as much.

When the singer was swapped out for someone else, Wembley wasn’t happy. “BRING HIM BACK,” rattled around the room as the stomping started and the booing increased. Audition after audition went on, the act was nowhere to be seen, but the crowd hadn’t forgotten. “Siiimmmmmoonnn!” roared the lions. But then Cowell did the unexpected. He listened and he apologised. 

“You own up to your mistakes,” Cowell admitted as the act was brought back out. “I want to apologise, I don’t think I was fair to you.

“I’ve learned to listen to an audience,” Cowell added saying he was “excited” to work with the vocalist as he once again found him a chair among his line-up. 

There was no sense that the producers had stepped in. Nor that Cowell simply wanted the crowd to shut it (out of all the judges, he is always the first to rile them). There was no sense that it was for the good of the show or the ‘entertainment factor’.

Perhaps I’m naive, but it simply felt like Cowell meant what he said: 1 – 0 to the Wembley crowd. He got that one wrong. 

The X Factor continues this Saturday and Sunday on ITV

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Main image via Olly Murs’ Instagram