Bella Penfold and Shan Ako are the latest acts to be voted off the X Factor, missing out on a place in the show’s semi-finals – but creator Simon Cowell intervened at the last minute to guarantee the pair will be on the live tour, which was originally billed to feature the final six acts.
With the X Factor final on 2nd December inching closer, the contestants pulled out all the stops for Big Band Week, which saw some (but not all) pairing their performances with a 30-piece orchestra.
But it was Bella’s version of London Grammar’s Strong and Shan’s Summertime by Billy Holliday that failed to impress viewers.
“I’m more than shocked,” said Cowell in reaction to Shan’s exit – his second axed act of the evening.
“There is something I can do. I can change the rules so there won’t be six acts at the live tour, there will be eight acts at the live tour because this girl and Bella – I know it’s my category, I’m devastated – but you will be on the tour.”
Bella’s elimination came after she received mixed reviews from the judges on Saturday night, with her song choice called into question.
“I’ve had the most incredible journey and it wouldn’t be the same without any of [the other contestants] and there’s one person in the room I want to thank more than anyone and that’s Simon Cowell,” she told host Dermot O’Leary after her exit was announced. “He’s changed my life.”
But it didn’t escape viewers’ notice that when her name was called out, she was unclear whether it meant she had been eliminated or not…
Meanwhile Shan – who won rave reviews from the panel on Saturday night – found herself in the sing-off with Acacia and Aaliyah, with the X Factor judges sending the decision to deadlock.
Her elimination means that Cowell is now down to just one act, along with Robbie and Ayda Williams, while Louis Tomlinson still has Anthony Russell, Dalton Harris and Brendan Murray left in the competition.
Next week’s semi-finals will see Abba legends Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus join the show, with Benny hosting a masterclass for the remaining contestants while Bjorn will watch them perform Abba tracks in the studio on Saturday night.