Wednesday, 02 September 2015

Carlisle man's suspicions about axing of singer from X Factor?

The singer at the centre of a storm over her axing from The X Factor started her career in Carlisle.

Star quality: Publicity photographs for Carolynne Poole, left, and her band WOTS – Word on the Street – which toured for a year in 1999 in the hope of music business success

Carolynne Poole was booted off the television talent contest after a controversial elimination show saw judge Louis Walsh appear to back her against Rylan Clark, before changing his mind. After he then backed Clark it forced the show to the public vote, which Carolynne lost.

The episode, in which an executive was spotted talking to Walsh just before the verdict was delivered, has sparked claims that results of the programme are a fix – which its producers have strenuously denied.

But it is a response that a former television presenter from Carlisle, who helped Carolynne – mentored by Take That star Gary Barlow – with an earlier bid for stardom, has found difficult to accept.

Phil McKay has revealed how the singer spent three months living at his Stanwix home while part of a band he helped put together.

She was a member of WOTS – Word on the Street – a five-piece group, formed in 1999, which performed on the likes of the Radio One Roadshow.

They rehearsed at the Railway Club and Swallow Hilltop Hotel in Carlisle before going on the road and working to impress music executives in the hope of landing a record contract.

Phil, who now runs a successful casting agency, said Carolynne’s talent was clear even as a 19-year-old auditioning for him and he was delighted she had made it to The X Factor’s live final.

But he says he was left “bouncing” by the way she was treated after finding herself in the bottom two of Sunday’s live elimination show.

“Carolynne has worked so hard over the years for this and to be treated this way on the night was just unbelievable,” said Phil, who has kept in touch with the singer.

“Why would an executive interrupt Louis when Carolynne was singing?

“This sort of thing really makes my blood boil. I really think that ratings will fall.

“I also question the way voting on these shows is done. Will we ever really know who gets the most votes? I have been in many TV studios over the years but never, as a viewer, seen anything like this.”

Phil worked as Word on the Street’s tour manager after helping put the group together.

He said: “We played gigs up and down the country. We did the Live & Kicking roadshow, Mizz magazine roadshow, the BBC Clothes shows and the Radio One roadshows.

“We were on the road solid, living out of a suitcase.

“We played with many big pop acts of the day – Ant & Dec, Liberty X, Blazing Squad, Westlife, A1 – and the band featured in many glossy pop magazines.

“But after a year or so it all ended because we ran out of finance in what was a really tough industry. Everyone went their separate ways but we have stayed friends.”

Giving his verdict on Rylan Clark, the act who made it through, Phil added: “He can’t sing for toffee.”

The X Factor producer Richard Holloway, the man seen talking to Walsh just before the judges delivered their verdict on the ITV1, has denied the show is a fix.

He said: “We regularly chat to the judges during the show – they don’t wear earpieces like [host] Dermot [O’Leary] so we have to speak to them on anything from timings to running order changes.

“On Sunday night I was telling Louis the order the judges would vote in and that he would be last.

“We don’t tell the judges how to vote and, as you saw on the show, Louis hadn’t – and couldn’t – make up his mind so he decided that sending it to the public vote was the fairest thing to do.”

Walsh defended his decision to force the show to an audience vote as “the fairest option”. Carolynne says she was “gutted” to lose out but wanted to get back into the studio and keep working.


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