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This year’s X Factor hopefuls have faced their most gruelling challenge yet as boot camp kicked off – with the competition even tougher than before.



Saturday’s show kicked off with the judges learning who they would be mentoring – with Louis assigned the boys, Sharon the over 25s, Gary the groups and Nicole the girls.

And while the remaining acts were initially thrilled to discover who their particular mentors would be, it was short-lived after many of them were sent home early on in the proceedings.

Among those making a premature exit were Chinese student Justin Peng – whose peformance wowed the judges on last Saturday’s auditions show – and trio Dynamix, whose lead singer SeeSee refused to abandon her band and perform solo.

Also failing to progress was 20-year-old Stephanie Woods, who previously fell short of the finals aged just 14 in 2007.

Despite Sharon urging Nicole to change her mind, the singer told her: “You did a very good audition…I don’t want you to give up but I’m going to have to send you home.”

Meanwhile a new boot camp twist saw the singers competing to win one of six seats on stage which would potentially spell a place at judges’ houses.

However even that did not guarantee the hopefuls reaching the next round, with the judges given the power to send them packing if other performers proved to be better.

Nicole was given the chance to fill her seats first, with early hopefuls Karen Harding and Essex girl Lydia Lucy taking the first two.

However there was bad news for 17-year-old Hannah Sheares, who split from girl group Daisy Chains after being urged to go solo by the judges.

And wedding singer Crissie Rhodes, who wowed judges and audience on last Sunday’s auditions show, was also shown the door – as Nicole complained of ‘uninspired’ auditions and was forced to give the girls a pep talk backstage.

“You need to focus on that song and sing your heart out, otherwise they will not care and I will not care,” she complained.

Teenager Tamera Foster, housekeeper Relley C and Scottish singer Jade Richards – who has tried on two previous attempts to reach the final – were also given seats

The final place was filled by Sheena McHugh, who Nicole initially sent home – changing her mind only after admitting she had been ‘the only person who made her cry today’.

However Sheena was quickly ousted in favour of 17-year-old Hannah Barrett, who delivered a barnstorming rendition of I’d Rather Go Blind.

Lydia subsequently lost her place to Abi Alton after she delivered a quirky piano version of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody, while Karen also lost out after Nicole was bowled over by Melanie McCabe.

In the over-25s category, Sam Bailey, Sabrina Rumikie and Joseph Whelan became the first three to take seats – although there was disappointment for call centre worker Jason Newland who failed to progress to the next stage.

The remaining hopefuls will be put through their paces on Sunday night’s X Factor, which kicks off at 8pm.