X Factor exclusion ‘right’

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
August 26, 2010, 8:06 PM GMT+0

The British public thinks the producers of ITV show The X Factor were right to exclude contestant Shirlena Johnson from the competition after receiving medical advice about her previous mental health problems, our poll has found.

62% felt that the ‘show could have been too much for someone with mental health problems’, believing that it was right that Shirlena was excluded. Interestingly, women were more likely to feel this way than men, with 65% supporting the show’s decision compared to 58% of men.

However, one in five (20%) disagrees, saying that ‘mental health problems should not be a reason to exclude someone from the competition’ (here, men and women more or less agree, with 21% and 19% respectively).

Similarities to Susan Boyle?

The debate has sparked widespread interest and controversy, with many comparisons being drawn to the case of Britain’s Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle.

After coming second in the 2009 show, on which The X Factor mogul Simon Cowell also features as a judge and there are (as with The X Factor) live audiences from audition stage onwards, West Lothian-based Boyle, who allegedly has minor learning difficulties, was forced to retire temporarily from the limelight after the pressure of her almost overnight global fame became too much to bear.

The show that thrust her into the spotlight was criticised for failing to show a degree of care or sensitivity towards its protégées, and it has been suggested that Shirlena Johnson’s removal from The X Factor is an attempt to redress this criticism.

Johnson’s audition was shown on the first show of this year’s series last weekend. She performed a very personal version of Duffy’s hit single, Mercy, which led to Simon Cowell calling her, perhaps regrettably, ‘fantastically nuts’.

The series has recently been at the centre of an ‘auto tuning’ row after bosses admitted to regularly altering auditionees’ vocals prior to broadcast.

Survey details and full results

Related story - 82% think The X Factor was wrong to 'autotune'

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