The remaining 32 acts in The X Factor 2010 have made their last bid for a place in the live finals, with their performances as the judges’ houses.

The boys travelled over to Australia, where they met with their mentor Dannii Minogue for the first time this series. She was joined by Natalie Imbruglia – who was a guest judge at the auditions – to hear them perform and help choose her final three.

The over 28s, meanwhile, went to Louis Walsh’s house in Shannon, Ireland, where there was a surprise for them – as well as discovering who their mentor was they also found out that former X Factor judge Sharon Osbourne would be helping him choose his finalists.

The groups travelled to Marbella in Spain, where they met with mentor Simon Cowell and Sinitta, who helped him judge, while the girls found out their mentor was Cheryl Cole when they went to her home in Ascot.

And there was further excitement for them when they discovered that Black Eyed Peas frontman Will I Am would be helping her to make her final decision.

First to perform on the show were the boys, and among those making an impression on Dannii was Italian-born Nicolo Festa.

Natalie Imbruglia described him as a “character” following his rendition of Paloma Faith‘s New York but Dannii expressed some concerns. “I don’t know if everyone will get him,” she said. “People are going to be talking but are they going to be talking for the right reason?”

19-year-old Paije Richardson also made his mark. “For me he’s the only one who knows he is in the competition,” she said.

And Matt Cardle left Dannii feeling guilty after his performance of Beyonce‘s If I Were A Boy.

“I was just hating myself for the first half of that because did I give him the hardest, hardest breaking song to sing?” she asked. “That was really, really tough.”

Aiden Grimshaw rounded off the boys’ performances with a thumbs up from his mentor. “I wasn’t sure which way that would go,” Dannii said, “but he seems really centred.”

In Ireland, Louis and Sharon had a tough job on their hands choosing the finalists from the over-28s category. Dutch singer Yuli Minguel was described as “bonkers” by Sharon while Justin Vanderhyde and Wagner Fiuza-Carillho also made their mark.

“The thing about Wagner is that you do remember him,” Louis pointed out, “he does stand out from the crowd.”

And American Storm Lee also had them talking. “This is his last chance,” Louis said. “This means everything to him. This is all he wants and it’s in our hands.”

In Marbella, Simon had a major job on his hands choosing his final groups – and he wasn’t holding back when it came to criticism.

“I thought we were going to here stronger voices than that,” he said of boy band The Reason when they had finished their performance, while he described girl group Husstle as “one girl and four back-up singers”.

However he was impressed with 1 Direction and Belle Amie, the boy band and girl group he formed at boot camp out of rejected singers.

“What’s impressive is that they really worked together as a group over the last few days,” he said of Belle Amie. And he said of 1 Direction, “They’re so cool, they’re relevant.”

Earlier in the day, the band had run into trouble after one member, Louis, was stung on the foot by a sea urchin and had to be taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Finally the girls performed for Cheryl Cole at her Ascot home – but it wasn’t all plain sailing. Katie Waissel broke down in tears midway through her song while Cher Lloyd struggled with a sore throat.

However she appeared to be impressed by Rebecca Ferguson – saying she “loved the tone of her voice,” – and Gamu Nhengu. “I really find I can relax when she sings,” she said of the 18-year-old.

The 12 finalists will be revealed on Sunday night’s show.