X-Factor winner banned from Christmas 'number one' betting

Bookies are taking bets on who will be Christmas number one – but banning the X-Factor winner from contention.

Bookies are taking bets on who will be Christmas number one – but banning the X-Factor winner from contention.

William Hill reckon the race to top the festive chart is a foregone conclusion these days.

X-Factor winners Leona Lewis and Shayne Ward have landed the number one spot for the past two years.

So William Hill is instead opening a book on who will take second place.

“The annual X-Factor single has wiped out a national institution,” a spokesman said.

“There’s little real competition for the top single on Christmas Day, so we’ve opened a book to open the race up again.”

The early 3/1 favourites are classical boy band Blake, who got together after meeting on Facebook.

They are covering Bing Crosby classic White Christmas, with proceeds going to the Royal British Legion.

Gennaro Castaldo of HMV said: “The way music is being consumed may be changing, but we Brits still love the race for the Christmas number one. It’s part of our tradition now.

“It would be great to see a genuine contest again rather than the X-Factor shoo-in that it has become, and what better song to reclaim the Christmas number one for the British public than the timeless White Christmas – surely the ultimate Christmas single.”

Blake are four classical musicians – Stephen Bowman, 25; Jules Knight, 25; Dominic Tighe, 24; and Oliver Baines, 24.

They met on Facebook earlier this year through a shared love of classical music, and have since landed a £1m (€1.4m) record deal with Universal.

Tighe has a personal reason for choosing the Royal British Legion.

“My father fought in the Falklands and the first Gulf War, so to do something that benefits the British Legion will be a real honour for me. And as it’s the 25th anniversary of the Falklands, it’s all the more meaningful.”

He added: “If there’s a tune to reclaim the race for Christmas number one, it’s White Christmas. It’s a popular classic, it’s a timeless and gorgeous song, and we’re really proud of our reworking of it.”

White Christmas was first released in 1942 and has since sold an estimated 30 million copies worldwide.

It has been recorded by everyone from Pat Boone to Keith Harris and Orville.

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