The first round of auditions are done and dusted. Now, for those who’ve made it through, it’s Boot Camp time. As the judges continue to hunt for the next big pop star – or a young version of whoever Louis Walsh used to bang on about – here’s what to expect.
When is Boot Camp?
The Boot Camp section of this year’s X Factor is running across two Sunday evening shows: Sunday 20th (7-9pm) and Sunday 27th September (7-9pm).
Where is Boot Camp filmed?
In a nod to series gone by, X Factor has broken free of Wembley Arena and moved the action to a lovely country hotel. It means we’re likely to get more of a peek at the behind-the-scenes stuff (we already know at least one act gets a ticking off for enjoying the partying a bit too much), and the auditions take place in lush gardens rather than a dark arena. The Grove Hotel in Watford, Hertfordshire, provides the backdrop.
What are the auditions like?
The team challenge returns, which sees the acts team up with each other to perform a song together. However, this year there’s a twist: the singers must match up with people from at least three other categories. So we won’t see the Girls category sticking together, or the Groups all opting to perform together.
If the hopefuls make it through this challenge, it’s onto their second solo performance. The judges watch but don’t give any direct feedback. The rest of the acts look on from a holding room, too. No pressure, right?
Co-hosts Caroline Flack and Olly Murs remain at the side of stage ready to dish out the hugs and encouragement. Filming went on long into the night and the duo often tweeted pictures of themselves wrapped up in blankets as they waited for the singers.
There’ll be some familiar faces
As well as the acts we’re excited to see again – Techno Sue, anyone? – some returning acts will be back for their second bash at Boot Camp, including Monica Michael from last year’s show and Rumour Has It (which contains members from New Girl Band who made it to Judges’ Houses last year). If at first you don’t succeed…
…and some faces missing
In 2011’s Boot Camp, then judges Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland, Louis Walsh and Tulisa Contostavlos sent a bunch of acts home before they’d had a chance to sing again. This year, some of the acts given four yeses in their original auditions have already been cut, meaning they’ll be spared that public dismissal (X Factor insiders say it was the “most thoughtful option”) but we won’t get to see them again.
…and sometimes even a disappearing judge
As we’ve seen during the first round of auditions, Nick Grimshaw will disappear during auditions filmed later in the night. This is because he had to fit in time to sleep before his early morning Radio 1 Breakfast Show.
The acts genuinely had a great time backstage
Sure, Boot Camp is nerve-wracking (although nothing compared to the upcoming Six Chair Challenge), but the acts all seemed to be having a ball. “Everyone’s getting on really well. Everyone’s lovely, there’s no sort of negative vibes from anyone. Everyone’s egging each other one,” an act told me backstage. There’s competition, but it’s healthy. In fact, while I had visions of everyone being on voice rest and sipping hot lemon drinks, they were ordering pizza, having sing-songs together and mooching about in bathrobes thrown over their on-trend outfits.
Last but not least: Look out for Simon’s son Eric
Oh yes, Eric was on location for the last day of Boot Camp auditions. He made a couple of bids for the judges’ desk as his dad was busy working. But when he wasn’t making a run for it, he was quite happy bopping along to the music at the side of the stage. The producers would be mad not to include a quick shot of that, right?
X Factor’s Boot Camp kicks off Sunday at 7:00pm on ITV