An emergency X Factor press conference this afternoon brought together the four acts axed by the judges in the first live show, one of which will replace disgraced contestant Frankie Cocozza following a public vote.
X Factor judges Gary Barlow, Tulisa, Kelly Rowland and Louis Walsh were also there, ostensibly to launch the voting but also, of course, to field questions about Frankie.
And Barlow poured out his heart, saying he shared the responsibility for Cocozza’s downfall – along with the entire X Factor machine.
“I do feel a level of responsibility towards him but unfortunately I can’t follow him around all week,” said Barlow.
“We try and take care of them while they are in our company. I said to him on a regular basis ‘You are a young guy, have fun but work hard at the same time’.
“We have all played our part in what has happened with Frankie and I don’t think any of us are guilt-free in that. Especially as I am sat here with all of the press – we have all encouraged Frankie not only to be good but to be bad as well.
Barlow said the press, the public – and Louis Walsh – had all been part of the problem for continually knocking the youngster down.
“We have enjoyed it and written about it, the show has enjoyed the publicity about it, but it has gone too far out of control for us as a show to have him still on here but I do feel a level of responsibility.
“I read messages, whether they were online, in the newspaper or on Twitter, and they were all telling him he is not good enough.
“And the audience booed him on Saturday, so I can kind of see where his life has led to in the last seven days and I don’t feel good about it at all and I don’t think anyone who has contributed to it should.”
Barlow referred specifically to Walsh’s scathing verdict on Cocozza’s Saturday night performance – “You’re not a rock star, you’ll never be a rock star and the only big thing about you is your hair” – telling his fellow judge “I don’t want to isolate it to an incident but I felt, Louis, your comments to Frankie on Saturday night weren’t encouraging.”
Walsh responded that he was “only being honest”.
Tulisa, meanwhile, defended Barlow.
“I think Gary did all that he could do. At the end of the day he is not a babysitter. How many parents do you see with their own children out of control? Gary only met Frankie a few months ago,” said the N-Dubz singer.
Adding: “We can’t put this on Gary. Everyone’s their own person and Frankie made his own mistakes.”