The X Factor judge Louis Walsh caused chaos at the show’s Six Chair Challenge as he dropped a girl band at the last minute after already sending them home once.
The second night of the most brutal stage of the competition saw three girl groups, 4 of Diamonds, Girl Next Door and Skarl3t vie for hotly-contested seats and a chance to compete at judges’ houses as Louis agonised over who to send home.
The ruthless challenge means those who are given a seat must wait anxiously as they face being replaced by another singer if the judge thinks the latter is more deserving of it.
Both Louis and fellow judge Sharon Osbourne narrowed down the acts in their categories – the groups and the over 25s respectively – to six during the episode, after Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger put their contestants through the process on Saturday.
Walsh initially refused to give Girl Next Door a chair in the challenge and sent them home, but after deafening boos from the crowd and loud chants of “Bring them back”, Louis summoned them back to take the seat he had already given to boy band No Getaway.
Just minutes later the girls were ousted again when urban trio Skarl3t performed an impressive rendition of Jessie J’s Bang Bang.
After lining up Girl Next Door, Skarl3t and another girl group, 4 of Diamonds, to whom he had already awarded a seat, Louis once again sent Girl Next Door hone.
Those were not the only comings and goings in the tumultuous show – novelty duo Ottavio and Bradley were awarded a seat after performing Kelis’s hit Milkshake, but were sent packing to make room for boy band Yes Lad.
After lobbying from Sharon and Nicole, who told him his category needed “spice”, Louis called the boys back to reclaim their seat from the crushed members of Yes Lad.
Louis struggled so much with his decision that Osbourne lost patience, telling him: “Do it. Louis, come on.”
After Louis settled on his line-up, made up of boy band 5am, Skarl3t, 4 of Diamonds, twin brothers The Brooks, Ottavio and Bradley and couple Tom and Laura, Simon told host Dermot O’Leary: “It was chaos, I thought it was bad two years ago, but this was worse.”
However, he confessed to being impressed by his chosen acts, saying: “This category, I wasn’t sure about it. But now this could be the best category.”
Sharon also struggled with her decisions when assembling the over-25s who will go through to judges’ houses.
Sharon disappointed Italian campaign co-ordinator Marianna Zappi, 34, who was only in her seat for a matter of minutes after displacing James Craise, 29, only to lose her seat to Ivy Grace Paredes, 33, who followed her on stage.
Russian model Irina Dedyuk, 28, delighted Simon when her performance of Jessie J’s Mama Knows Best involved her whipping off the bottom half of her dress to reveal a much skimpier number.
Her moves earned her a seat but her joy was short lived and Dedyuk quickly had to surrender her chair to Janet Grogan, 28, for her version of Ariana Grande’s One Last Time.
Janey joins Ivy, American singer Christopher Peyton, 46, Relley C, 26, James Wilson, 34, and Samantha Atkinson, 32, in Osbourne’s category.
The X Factor continues on ITV on Saturday at 8pm.