The final 12 contestants for the 2010 series of Simon Cowell’s U.K. music talent show “The X Factor” were unveiled this weekend, with the judges’ decisions provoking a number of online protests throughout the United Kingdom.
The most controversial moment from Sunday’s show saw judge Cheryl Cole axe hotly-tipped hopeful Gamu Nhengu in favor of singers Katie Waissel, who broke down in tears during her performance, and Cher Lloyd, who was unable to fully audition due to a sore throat.
In response, over 80,000 people have joined a Facebook group entitled “Gamu Should Have Got Through,” calling for Nhengu’s return. With trailers for next week’s show trumpeting a “big twist,” speculation is mounting that the 18-year-old contestant could re-join the show thanks to some sort of wild card, although nothing has been confirmed by show chiefs.
In line with previous years, the final 12 contestants are split into four separate groups – “Boys,” “Girls,” “Groups” and “Over 28s” — with a different judge mentoring each group.
The Cowell-mentored “Groups” category features boy bands 1 Direction and FYD plus girl group Belle Amie; while “Girls,” mentored by Cole, contains Lloyd, Waissel and Rebecca Ferguson. Aiden Grimshaw, Matt Cardle and Nicolo Festa are in Dannii Minogue’s “Boys” category, while the three finalists in Louis Walsh’s “Overs” group are John Adeleye, Storm Lee and Mary Byrne.
U.K. bookmaker William Hill has immediately installed painter and decorator Cardle as favorite to win the competition, which has previously discovered the likes of Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke.
The first of “The X Factor” live shows take place Oct. 9. Guest performers for the 2010 series are yet to be announced, although reformed U.K. pop group Take That is among the acts tipped to appear on the show.