The X Factor frontrunners Andrea Faustini and Lauren Platt talk to TV Times about their X Factor experience so far

So, Lauren, what has been your highlight of The X Factor so far?
“My first live Sunday results show and getting voted through to the next week. It gives you such a confidence boost knowing for the first time that the public are out there supporting you and not just the judges.”

Have the stakes got higher now that you’re the last remaining act in Cheryl’s category?
“I must say, it is a bit pressurising being the only girl left – I don’t want to be letting Chezza down!”

How is it having Cheryl’s number on your phone?
“It’s so strange! I’m sure you’ve seen the article that came out recently about Charlie and I, and the other day I was sitting in her dressing room just asking for advice. The whole time I was thinking, ‘I am getting advice from Cheryl – what is going on?!’

What else makes Cheryl such a great mentor?   
“She’s so hands-on; I didn’t expect her to be like that at all. The best advice she’s given me is to not waste this opportunity. It won’t come round again, so it’s dead important to stay on the ball. But she also wants me to have fun, so she’s nice and easy.”

Do you have any rituals before you go on stage?
“I have a lucky fiver that I keep in my bra! When I walked into my first audition, I saw it sitting next to the line that you have to walk past. I’ve kept it since then and have it with me every time I go on stage.”

We hear you have some famous fans in former-X-Factor boyband-turned-global-sensation One Direction?
“Yes, they are now following me on Twitter. They’re really nice. Niall is good friends with my best friend so there is a little link there, but I didn’t really know him before this.”  

Christmas is just around the corner, what’s your all-time favourite festive song?
“All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey, especially when it featured in Love Actually. The girl who performed it in the film [Olivia Olson] was great.”

And finally, if you were to buy Cheryl a Christmas present, what would you choose?
“Depends how rich I am by the end of The X Factor! Ooh I’ve got a good one – my ultimate Christmas present to Cheryl would be at least getting to the final for her.”

Andrea, at your first audition, you received four Yeses from the judges for your rendition of the Jackson 5’s Who’s Lovin’ You. Did you ever imagine back then that you’d make it to the Live Shows?
“No not at all, I never imagined I would go this far. This experience is amazing because everything that comes with it is so unexpected and new. After that very first audition, every single day has been like a holiday for me.”

You’re a huge Spice Girl fan and bought a doll of Mel B along to your first audition. It must be odd to now have her on speed dial?
“Yes and it’s even more strange when she calls you on Skype! She’s so cool because she’s not just a judge, she’s like a friend to us. She helps us in everything and is constantly in touch with us during the week. And she just wants us to be who we are.”

The other three mentors are also big fans of yours. Do you speak to them much backstage?
“Yes – they are very, very cute and all such nice people.”  

You live in Italy, how are you finding being away from home in The X Factor house?
“It’s crazy and it’s so hard to sleep because the house is just a little bit noisy!”

What is your favourite performance to date?
“Singing Whitney Houston’s I Didn’t Know My Own Strength at Bootcamp (which reduced Mel B and Cheryl to tears). I’m happy with the kind of songs I’m doing because I think I’m showing week by week all the things I can do.”

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
“No, I just like to focus on what I have to do on the song I’m singing. I don’t think about anything else because I’m too nervous!”

What would it mean to you to win?
“It would be crazy. This experience is massive and breathtaking so winning would mean so much to me and I’m ready to do anything to achieve this dream.”

With Christmas just around the corner, what’s your top festive track?
“There are a lot, but I love Mariah Carey’s album Merry Christmas.”

And lastly, what Christmas present would you pick for Mel B?
“I would give her my Scary Spice doll!”