Maureen Coleman: X Factor judge Simon Cowell pulls off a PR master-stroke with Jedward

He’s been accused of hypocrisy, branded a coward and slated by viewers for saving the Terrible Grimes Twins.

Simon Cowell’s rescue act caused the X Factor’s website to crash as fans of Lucie Jones posted indignant messages criticising the music mogul.

After all, he’s been their harshest judge since the live shows began and even threatened to leave the country should they go on and win.

So his weekend decision raises several questions. Was it really as big a shock as everyone is saying? Or was this a Machiavellian master-stroke on the part of the most influential man in the entertainment industry?

According to a number of local music experts, Cowell knew exactly what he was doing and that his decision to go to deadlock was a cynical ploy to keep the much-talked about twins in the show.

Warren Higgins, who runs a London music PR firm which looks after acts such as Snow Patrol and Lady Gaga, said John and Edward were too valuable an asset to the show to lose.

“I don’t think the result was a farce, I think it is a perfect example of Simon Cowell knowing exactly what he is doing,” he said.

“He is saving an act that is keeping his show in all the newspapers and on everyone’s lips.

“It’s entertainment for the family and as much as it pains me to say it, Jedward provides that element.”

Belfast music publicist Jeff Robinson, who looks after local acts including General Fiasco, said Cowell was just maximising the PR potential. “It’s all about the drama,” he said.

“Everyone thought the twins were going home and then Cowell threw them a lifeline, despite his views week after week.

“But it’s all about the ratings at the end of the day and John and Edward are the big news story of this series.”

Gennaro Castaldo of HMV said the lack of consistency from the judges posed questions about the show’s integrity.

“We know the X Factor is as much about creating fantastic Saturday night entertainment for TV as it is discovering new talent, but, for the sake of consistency, that doesn't mean it shouldn't try to adhere to the same judging criteria each week so that we know whether it's the public's or the judge's votes that really count,” he said.

“We also need to know whether contestants are being judged on their performance on the night or, rather, their ability and commercial potential based on their contribution through the series.

Whatever the reason for Cowell’s change of heart, a staggering 15.4m of us tuned in on Saturday night to watch the talent show. It doesn’t matter who walks away with the recording contract this series — there’s only real winner, and that’s Simon Cowell.

* Source: The Belfast Telegraph