Lauren Murray and Reggie n Bollie face the threat of elimination from X Factor this weekend.
Simon even suggested they were an act he wanted to see in the final. We might get the chance to find out how much he means that this week. With only five left and the return to a single elimination, only the top three will avoid the danger zone. I am going to suggest that hot favourite Louisa and singoff survivor Che will be in that top three. Which means only one of Reggie n Bollie, Lauren Murray and Fourth Impact will also avoid it.
Louisa has become the 8/15 odds-on favourite in the outright on the back of her moment last Saturday - her continued good treatment will no doubt continue this coming week. It was a less successful weekend for previous second favourite Che Chesterman, when he was left fighting for survival in the singoff. He has previously been namechecked as a finalist in the competition, and I think producers will help him bounce towards it this week. The opportunity for him to sing Adele's recent smash hit 'Hello' suggests it.
That leaves us with three acts - who haven't yet hit the bottom two, which means it's hard to guess their level of support - potentially fighting it out for survival. 13/8 favourites for elimination are Fourth Impact, on the back of being overshadowed by the other group Reggie n Bollie last week. Whilst Simon reiterated just how much the country had come to love the Ghanaian pair, he dismissively said of the four girls and their lack of individual identity, "you could be A, B, C and D".
Still, one of their possible numbers next week, 'I'll Be There' gives them a chance to showcase their vocals on a ballad, and YouTube evidence suggests it's a song they perform very well. They look a little short in the elimination market at that price, given how strong their support has held up to avoid a singoff appearance so far.
Reggie n Bollie and Lauren Murray are better value at 7/2 and 9/2 respectively. Obviously, the treatment of Reggie n Bollie has outfoxed me so far. Everything about their treatment on Saturday indicated Simon wasn't making it up when he said he wanted them in the final - we were further encouraged to invest in their two families. But whether they decide to let a novelty act ride a wave all that way is still open to question.
Lauren Murray had her biggest moment in week 3 after events required a last-minute song change. There were clues that producers were softening her appeal in last week's treatment. Song choice, staging and comments were all rather forgettable. The obvious reason for dampening her support is to clear the path for their Plan A, fellow girl Louisa Johnson. But they'll have to step it up a gear given Lauren's popularity.
Still, if we are working on the assumption that getting Louisa Johnson crowned this year's X Factor champion is producers top priority, that may well be the case next Saturday. In the circumstances I'm going to suggest a dutch on Lauren Murray and Reggie n Bollie to be eliminated. At the prices, that works out roughly a 13/8 chance, which seems a very fair price in the circumstances. Though as always, watching the show will tell us more.