After six weeks of auditions, The X Factor 5 has reached the boot camp stage – with 150 acts competing for a place in the next round.
And after being put through their paces at the O2 Arena in London, with the judges presiding over a series of gruelling singing challenges, the numbers were eventually whittled down to just 50.
Of those, only 25 will go through to the next stage – when they will discover who is mentoring which category, and will have the chance to perform for their mentor in their home – with a place in the live finals at stake.
As with the auditions, there were a number of standout acts – but boot camp has also proven to be an emotional rollercoaster for many of the hopefuls.
Gutsy mum of five Rachel Hylton – who was championed by Simon Cowell at the first auditions – wasn’t happy when he criticised her performance of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars – and wasted no time in letting him know.
“It’s so easy for you to sit there, for everyone who stands up here I have to defend our position, I have practised and practiced and I know I know this song,” Hylton told him after he accused her of “ruining” the song.
Cowell subsequently warned her not to ruin things for herself. “One of us has to work with you; you have to listen as we are trying to help you.”
Nonetheless, Rachel made it through to the next stage and said she would be less arrogant in future. “To know you want something so much and nearly lose it,” she said. “I’ll never be so stupid again.”
The judges were also impressed by 21-year-old Laura White, who they described as “the one to beat”. “I don’t think you realise how good you are,” Cowell told her.
And boy band JLS also came in for high praise, with Louis Walsh comparing them to “one of the early Motown groups”.
Others to make it through to the next stage included former boyband member Austin Drage, teenager Amy Connolly, girl band Bad Lashes and Welsh duo Adante, as well as 80-year-old Cyril Grant, who was once again a hit with the panel.
Alan Turner – who hit the headlines amid accusations that his story of not knowing his real family was untrue – also made it through, as did pool cleaner Daniel Evans, who reduced Cheryl Cole to tears with his original audition after revealing he was doing it for his late wife.
However, there was one final sting in the tail for the hopefuls – having thought they had all made it through to the next day, another third of the contestants were axed at the last minute, leaving just 50 to go forward to day two.
The judges left the hopefuls in suspense for an hour before dividing them into three rooms and breaking the news to each room separately.
The second stage of boot camp – in which the semi-finalists are chosen – will be screened on ITV1 on Sunday evening.