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'X Factor's new Boot Camp chair swap twist: Is it too cruel?

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The X Factor has been chewing acts up and spitting them out for years, so I'm always hesitant about any feelings of outrage or anger I have towards the way the show treats contestants.

You can't sit back and laugh at Wagner one year and then complain that some old dear is being turned into a laughing stock the next. The show can be cruel for those taking part, brutal for those who don't make the grade, and its fickleness is nothing compared to the harsh realities of the music industry.

'The X Factor' 2013 Boot Camp: Karen Harding

© ITV / Thames TV

'The X Factor' 2013 Boot Camp: Karen Harding



However, the argument that 'the music industry is meaner' fell apart this week. Yes, the music industry drops acts. Yes, the music industry dumps people who are great. And yes, it dumps on people, who have been told they're great and that their music is more beautiful than a naked supermodel smothered in melted chocolate.

But I refuse to believe that anyone in the music industry has even been given a contract, told they're brilliant and then forced to watch 15 other people sing and have that contract ripped up in front of their faces. And even if they have, I bet they didn't have an audience of 4,000 people chanting at them to be on their way.

This was reality TV at its most cruel.

'The X Factor' 2013 Boot Camp: Melanie McCabe

© ITV / Thames TV

'The X Factor' 2013 Boot Camp: Melanie McCabe



Maybe it's down to a lack of confidence in the talent, or perhaps it's just a desperate attempt to create interest in a series that has performed solidly in the ratings, but without creating any real talking points or memorable moments. The X Factor without mock outrage and an Ofcom scandal is just The Voice UK. So maybe they felt the need to up their game.

The X Factor has twisted and turned and been cutthroat in the past. The show's never been afraid of delivering hyperbole and promises of stardom to teenagers before dashing their dreams in a moment. However, watching Karen Harding, Lydia Lucy and Sheena McHugh get put into the Top 6 and then have the dream of a spot at Judges' Houses snatched away from them felt needlessly mean.

Whether the trio deserved to make Judges' Houses or not felt irrelevant. The audience finger-pointing and the chanting of "Swap! Swap! Swap!" made the whole process terribly ugly.

'The X Factor' 2013 Boot Camp: The judges

© ITV / Thames TV

'The X Factor' 2013 Boot Camp: The judges



This is an immensely popular TV show that is already a tough process for all the competitors. Why did the producers feel the need to make it even more vicious? Did they really think seeing acts have their dreams made and then crushed in just a matter of moments is what viewers have been screaming out for?

Even if I'm alone in getting a rather unpleasant feeling from the hokey-cokey chair twist, it definitely undermines the credibility of the show's judges.

The new super-size audition process already made them seem incredibly fickle. (Audition 1: "You're a-mazing, you're through to the next round." Yay! Audition 2: "You're not good enough!" Oh.) This new-look Boot Camp has added to the confusion.

We've had the producers and Sharon Osbourne doing their very best to make us cry about acts. One stage later in the competition and the same acts have been given the elbow.

'The X Factor' 2013 Boot Camp: Hannah Sheares

© ITV / Thames TV

'The X Factor' 2013 Boot Camp: Hannah Sheares



The worst of the lot was one poor girl who was cajoled and bullied into getting rid of her bandmates and best mates by Gary Barlow, told her dreams were going to come true, only to have the rug pulled from underneath her this week after one mediocre performance. She was told she looked lost on the stage. Of course she looked lost - you just sacked all her bandmates.

Add in the judges egging on the acts to beg, plead and shed tears for the final spots in the competition and I found myself with a nasty taste in my mouth by the end of the show.

They may as well have told some of the singers to come back in a year's time when they were ready to cry on demand and when they had a dead relative that they're willing to use to make them more interesting for television.

The whole twist felt contrived and unpleasant, and I hope it won't be returning in 2014.

Do you agree with Reality Bites? Or did you enjoy the new Boot Camp twist? Let us know below.

Photo gallery - The X Factor Boot Camp:

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