X Factor 2014: Why would viewers want deadlock to go?

Rumours suggest a fifth judge will mentor a wildcard category in this year’s live shows and eliminate judging deadlocks. But returning to the public vote is part of the fun for viewers, says Emma Daly


Just weeks since we finally found out that the fourth judge on this year’s X Factor will be former Spice Girl Mel B, and there are even more judging rumours flying about.


This time it’s the ‘fifth judge’ rumour mill kicking into action once again.

This also happened last year. There was an awful lot of excitement at the prospect of Simon Cowell strolling in, grey t-shirt on, ready to tell everyone how boring their singing was. Alas, it turned out to be an app that us viewers could use to play along at home.

Cowell’s back this year of course (phew) alongside Cheryl Cole, Louis Walsh and the aforementioned Mel B.

And now it’s rumoured that an actual fifth judge will turn up in the live show stage, with a source telling Metro that they’ll be judging their own wildcard category.

As an added new twist, it’s suggested that each judge will also have four, rather than three, acts in the finals.

A wildcard category I’m all for. The wildcard option was how we all were able to enjoy Wagner in the 2010 live shows. If he’d slipped through the net… anyway. There wasn’t even one wildcard last year, so we’re owed some unexpected acts popping up in the final.

But, I’m not sure I’m on board with a fifth judge taking away the chance of a judges’ deadlock.

Up until now, the two acts who received the lowest number of public votes had to sing another song for the judges. Each judge then picked who they wanted to leave. If two judges voted for one act and two for another, the studio was suddenly filled with red light, deadlock would flash up dramatically on the screen and host Dermot O’Leary would wait all seriously while he was told which act was going home.

It’s all part of the reality show drama we’ve come to expect. I mean, we very nearly lost Dermot dancing last year. He pulled it back with a bit of a wiggle near the end of the series. But we can’t lose this too, can we? It’s half the fun for viewers. We get to swoop in at the last minute all smug that the judges haven’t been able to come to a decision but we have. We’ve managed to spot the talent, and we’ll tell you who we want in the next round thank you very much.

We’ve also paid for the pleasure to cast our vote, and if it’s useful a second time around, well then that’s more bang for your buck, isn’t it?

Presumably the idea of ditching deadlock is to ramp up tension among the judges. If they can’t hold their hands up and leave us to decide, they’ve got to make a decision. And no doubt irritate someone else on the panel in the process.

Even when deadlock was a possibility we got water flinging, smooching, crying, walking off and a whole lot of finger wagging as the judges tried to decide among themselves who should stay or go. Goodness only knows how tempers will flare without it.

A spokesperson for X Factor has told RadioTimes.com that the rumours are “pure speculation” and that “no decision had been made” regarding the live finals. But in all honesty, if it does happen, it’s Dermot I feel sorry for. How much louder can he actually yell, “I’m going to need an answer!”?


X Factor returns to ITV later this year