It was a chilling reminder of the flip-side of reality TV stardom — when the cameras stop rolling, it’s anybody’s guess whether your audience will hang about.
Still, the latest crop of hopefuls didn’t seem to have taken Bailey’s sudden exit from Cowell-land to heart.
Eight-part boy band, Sterokicks, merrily stomped all over Paul McCartney with a hideously cheerful mash-up of ‘Let It Be’ and ‘Hey Jude’; 17- year-old Lauren Platt delivered a brain-melting mash-up of Pharrell Williams’s ‘Happy’ and Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ — her chutzpah offset by the fact 90% of attendees were utterly unfamiliar with the latter.
As is standard with X Factor, the latest competition featured a token car-crash act, in the shape of chintzy Freddie Mercury wannabe, Stevi Ritchie.
His segment was obviously sanity-testing, thought not necessarily in a bad way: he was keen and willing to look ridiculous, which rendered him more likeable than the majority of his Cowell-approved compatriots
The loudest cheers were for the trio of finalists. Pavarotti clone, Andrea Faustini, was equal parts flawless and soulless; Fleur East couldn’t make her mind up whether she wanted to ape Rihanna or Beyoncé.
Looming over the lot was champion, Ben Haenow, a former van driver whose geezer-down-the street charm had whipped the audience, with their sparklers and enormous tubs of popcorn, into a tizzy before he had warbled a note.