Boot camp weekend began slowly. Saturday’s complicated, number-obsessed episode saw the original 187 reduced to a group of 152, which was then cut by two thirds so that 60 could sing for the chance to be in the last 32, minus the number you first thought of, on a train travelling at 30mph that left Birmingham at 3:45pm.
The only noteworthy events were Misha Bryan’s incredible raspberry-Klingon hair, Sami Brookes saying, “I couldn’t find a strapless bra, so I’ve had to tuck the things inside and hope for the best”, and randy 1970s plumber Frankie Cocozza squiring one of the other contestants at the welcome party. Pure self-disgust left the poor girl unable to sing the next day. (Gary Barlow: “Frankie just oozes…charisma.”)
In the Sunday instalment, however, the contestants were set a “new challenge”. It turned out to be singing a song in front of a lot of people, which wasn’t very new or challenging, but did cause the big hitters to up their game.
Mortifying attention addict Kitty Brucknell went to the limit immediately, growling aggressively through Feeling Good in a custom-made, hyper-revealing silver leotard fitted with flashing white lights. Kitty activated the bulbs just as her performance devolved into primal grunts and, at the climax, a falsetto that sounded like a cry for help, in both senses: someone who was already having an emotional crisis who is now also being stabbed.
Kitty showed restraint only in not putting any lights on the leotard’s crotch, although perhaps this was because there wasn’t enough material there to support the wiring. When she was told she’d made it through she collapsed in theatrical tears on the steps backstage, pointing her shiny gusset right at Dermot O’Leary, who hid behind a handrail.
It was almost hard to tell Kitty and Goldie Cheung apart: same song, same lack of self-awareness, same witheringly unsexy pelvis-flashing on top of a grand piano. But in Goldie’s case, the guy playing the piano was laughing – and Goldie’s new move, loudly flicking open a fan at unexpected moments, showed the sort of perfect comic timing only possessed by people who aren’t trying to make a joke.
If it’s true that Goldie has now left the show after being selected for the finals, because she realised she was this year’s occupant of Louis Walsh’s “funny foreigner” slot, it’s a shame: up to now she’s seemed too lost in her own reality to care.
Of the proper contestants, cute Celt Janet Devlin impressed again and Misha Bryan, now encased in an imperious leopard-print headdress, looked like her nearest competitor. The faintly sinister James Michael emerged, Lascel Wood was scandalously sent home, and several failures were hastily arranged into groups. When some of these failed, bits of them were hastily arranged into another group, like a Frankenstein’s monster made of leftover legs and eyelashes.
More deserving of his second chance was ducker, diver and HGV driver Terry Winstanley, who was forgiven for forgetting his words under the pressure of the big sing-off, on account of a hysterically good performance earlier on. But it was the end for wizened wild man David Wilder, who had promised that we would witness “the birth of David Wilder”.
Instead we saw the slow death of David Wilder. Panic set in and David ended up stripped to his vest, shouting a high note until his breath ran out. His lifelong dream of playing Wembley Arena had come horribly true.