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Did copper cable thieves blackout the X Factor

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    Posted: 13 Nov 2011 at 15:02

Did copper cable thieves blackout the X Factor for 16 minutes? ITV claim 'technical difficulties' delayed live show

By Chris Hastings and Andy Whelan

Last updated at 11:33 AM on 13th November 2011

The X Factor was plunged into chaos last night after a technical failure forced the show off air for 16 minutes.

The blackout caused rampant speculation amid the show’s millions of fans – with some suggesting that thieves had stolen copper cable from the BT Tower, which is a vital relay station for TV signals.

ITV played out a highlights reel to cover the glitch, which triggered a welter of complaints from fans.


Embarrassment: As viewers tuned in for X Factor tonight, 'technical difficulties' mean they were presented instead with clips from the auditions stage

The screw-up came at a crucial turning point, as it is to be announced tonight whether James Michael, Amelia Lily, 2 Shoes or Jonjo Kerr have received a lifeline to return to the competition.

And the absence of an adequate explanation from ITV, which simply blamed problems at the 620ft BT Tower, also led to fanciful theorising – and accusations of a fix.


Even politicians were caught up in the speculation, with Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls suggesting on Twitter: ‘Not more metal theft?’

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, a devoted fan of the talent show, also tweeted: ‘Switched on a few minutes late. What is going on with X Factor? Have scrap robbers stolen all the cables?’

The show tweeted its own message to followers: ‘We are currently experiencing technical difficulties. We’ll tweet you with more news the moment we have it. The studio is ready and raring to go... but there is a technical failure at BT Tower.’


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The landmark building in Central London, formerly known as the Post Office Tower, contains the TV Network Switching Centre, which relays broadcasters’ signals.

The programme was supposed to start at 8.15pm but instead viewers saw a rerun of contestants performing at the audition stage.

After an advertising break, a continuity announcer made a rushed apology that the delay was due to ‘technical problems’.

When the show finally got under way, it was business as usual, with judge Tulisa Contostavlos striking a purposeful pose as she entered the studio and host Dermot O’Leary telling viewers: ‘It’s going to be some show.’

A further apology came at the end of a later advertisement break.


Interruption: The X Factor judging panel finally appeared after the 'technical problems'

Earlier, the show tried to make light of the blackout by referring to contestant Frankie Cocozza, who was kicked off the show for boasting of cocaine abuse. Producers said on Twitter: ‘No, Frankie has not taken the producers hostage.’

Among the celebrities who tweeted about the glitch was Richard Madeley, who cast doubt on the official explanation. ‘No, never gone off air cos of tech failure. Live TV is usually fully backed up. We even had a spare generator at C4 in case.’

Fellow presenter Phillip Schofield said: ‘Now THAT’s got us sitting up and paying attention!’

Doctor Who boss Steven Moffat, said: ‘Look the collapse of the euro is bad, I get that – but THIS??’


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Singer Tracey Thorn, of Everything But The Girl, said: ‘It’s like the power cuts in the Seventies. Let’s turn the lights off and get out some candles.’

And Live magazine’s TV columnist Ian Hyland said: ‘Wonder if Simon Cowell fixed the technical fault. Well, he fixes everything else.’

Meanwhile the show's sofa-bound audience took to Twitter to express their indignation.

Popjustice wrote: 'I've never seen someone s*** themselves with rage but I don't fancy the chances of Simon Cowell's underpants right now'


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Another joked: 'This is merely reminding us of all the people who #xfactor DIDNT keep in.'

An ITV spokesman said: ‘The problem, which was caused by a power failure at BT Tower was outside of ITV and the producers’ control. It was resolved as quickly as possible.’

Elaine Bedell, ITV’s Director of Entertainment said: 'In these unprecedented circumstances I’m pleased that we are giving viewers the opportunity to vote for one act to return to Saturday’s show and that all profits from this vote will be donated to Help for Heroes.'

One BT spokesman said there was an ‘unusual power spike’, while another source said a circuit breaker tripped, adding: ‘Engineers are checking if there was an anomaly with the current or the voltage.’

Metal theft is an increasing problem, with cables and war memorials being targeted around the country.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2060814/X-Factor-technical-fault-Did-copper-cable-thieves-blackout-live-16-minutes.html#ixzz1db93hbZ8
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