X Factor: More Brutal Than Simon Cowell

It was the end of the line yesterday for 35 shocked X Factor hopefuls, who were given their marching orders from the boot camp stage of the competition despite not being given the chance to sing for their survival.

In a show that’s as much about image as it is about vocal talent, 187 acts were ordered outside and separated after a night of deliberation by the judges.

Standing grim-faced on the lawn of the Selsdon Park hotel in Croydon, Gary Barlow pulled the short straw and was given the job of delivering the bad news to a surprised and hungover crowd of hopefuls, already feeling worse for wear thanks to a night of downing complementary booze provided by TV execs.

“We don’t believe everyone standing in front of us has the potential to make it all the way in this competition. Some of you are going home now. I’m so sorry – you’re going home.” said the Take That star.

Judge Kelly Rowland then stepped in, saying: “While you were partying last night, we were looking at your audition tapes. We only want to work with the people who can go all the way.”

Fellow judge Tulisa said: “This is a tough industry. We’ve got to believe in you.”

In previous X Factor Boot Camps, each act was given the chance to perform before being sent home. This time round however, the judges are obviously in a particularly ruthless mood, even axing Blue star Antony Costa’s 22-year-old brother Louis before he could prove his potential.

An insider said: “It was total carnage – a thunderbolt from the blue. All were partying away on Sunday, knocking back free grog and boasting they’d be the next winner. Next morning many were in tears after getting the push. Even Simon Cowell wasn’t this brutal.

“They were like zombies, completely dazed.”

Last night saw the next stage of the competition, with the remaining contestants performing at Wembley Arena, after which they will be whittled down to the final 32 for the judges’ houses round next month.

X Factor returns to our screens this Saturday.