By PAUL REVOIR and SARA NATHAN
Looking a bit peaky: Cheryl Cole arriving at the X Factor studios this morning in north-west London. She went home early yesterday suffering flu-like symptoms
Cheryl Cole exhausted as Simon Cowell battles flu
Mary Byrne, Matt Cardle and Harry Styles have lost voice
Cher Lloyd's meltdown as she lashes out at camerawoman
The X Factor has been thrown into crisis as Simon Cowell, and two of the show favourites are on the brink of missing tonight’s crucial semi-final after falling ill.
Bookmakers favourite Matt Cardle – who is at odds of 8/11 to win the ITV talent hit – and Mary Byrne both missed yesterday's soundcheck and are desperately battling to be well for this weekend's performances.
There were also renewed health fears for Cheryl Cole, who was sent home yesterday suffering flu-like symptoms.
The 27-year-old singer, who nearly died from malaria this summer, was said to be looking 'tired, drained and exhausted' during the soundcheck.
Arriving at the studios today in a red cardigan, scarf and jeans, Cheryl looked a little bit pale.
Meanwhile, One Direction singer Harry Styles attended yesterday's soundcheck with a scarf around his neck and was forced to communicate through writing notes because his throat was so sore.
Stylish: The judge bundled up in a red cardigan and white scarf, teamed with jeans and black heels
Today he arrived for rehearsals with a sign stuck to his top reading: 'I'm on vocal rest. Can't speak. Thank you.'
Matt, 27, is suffering from tonsillitis and is so unwell that he has gone home to his parents in Essex to try and recover.
Mary, 50, has been suffering from an inflammation of the throat and a source said: ‘She is really ill, she has a temperature and is panicking.’
Feeling the strain: One Direction member Harry Styles is suffering from a sore throat and wore a sign round his neck as he arrived to rehearsals today
Sweet treat: One Direction's Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan enjoy some icecream outside Fountain Studios this morning
Frantic X Factor chiefs spent yesterday locked in talks to come up with a contingency plan if they are hit with this unprecedented situation in the penultimate weekend of the show.
Meanwhile, multi-millionaire Cowell, 51, is suffering with a flu-like virus and spent the day taking mediation, drinking ginger tea and wrapped in a scarf.
A doctor was called to the north London studio and a show source said: ‘Simon is really unwell – he’s desperate to be okay for the show.’
On BBC1 show Strictly Come Dancing performers are allowed to miss one week of the show through health problems.
Running on empty: Show boss Simon Cowell is also under the weather and has been holed up at home recovering from flu
But the same could not really happen for the ITV contest as if Matt and Mary miss the show, then that will leave just three acts to perform tonight.
And with just one week before the live final, set to be watched by more than 20 million fans, it would undoubtedly spark controversy if either contestant were allowed to miss the show.
The plan is that one singer will be voted off the X Factor tomorrow, which means for the first time in the show's history, there will be four contestants vying for the winner's title next Sunday.
The source added: ‘Mary has a fever and we’ve had to bike some antibiotics over to Matt at his parents.
We want our voices back: Mary Byrne is ill with a temperature and suffering from an inflammation of the throat while Matt Cardle has tonsillitis
‘Matt is with his parents and he was not well enough to come to the soundcheck and Mary is ill in bed, which is the best place for her. I don't think we have ever been in this situation before.'
Matt had earlier this week pulled out of a secret concert in London because he was not well enough to perform.
Meltdown: Cher Lloyd smoking earlier this week
He is the favourite to win the show – and the £1 million recording contract with Cowell – and insiders say that he is way out in front in the voting every week.
While Tesco checkout worker Mary did perform at the event but is now understood to have lost her voice.
Meanwhile Cher Lloyd reportedly though a wobbly during yesterday's soundcheck.
Mentor Cheryl Cole is said to have been forced to step in when her act entered a screaming match with a camerawoman.
Having earlier fluffed her song, Cher is said to have screamed at the production staff member: 'Get out of my face. I'm not a caged animal.'
Last week's rejects Katie Waissel and Wagner, meanwhile, were hitting up the nightclub scene last night with Katie performing a set at London's G-A-Y and Wagner entertaining crowds at a club in Maidstone, Kent.
Throughout his time on the X Factor, Matt has been extremely outspoken.
And speaking ahead of tonight's programme, he appeared to criticise the younger acts on the show who 'cry for votes'.
He said: 'Some people say "I've wanted it all my life". You're 16 years old! You've wanted it for a couple of years since you figured you could sing.
Crowd pleaser: The star bonds with the enthusiastic audience
'Try hammering away at it for 12 years, then you can say you've always wanted it. But I am not going to cry about it because I am a man.'
He also seemed to take a dig at last year's winner Joe McElderry, admitting last year's winner was not taken as seriously as other chart stars.
Matt said: 'Bless Joe, he's done so well, but I don't think he's seen like Paolo Nutini or James Morrison and that seems like its because he was on TV.'
Centre of attention: Wagner Carrilho was also doing the rounds, performing at Liquid nightclub in Maidstone, Kent
He added: 'I just want to come out the other side of it credible and be respected for doing what I do. If that can pave the way for other people like myself who have previously thought X Factor is a bit naff and a bit plastic, then brilliant.'
Singer Diana Vickers was forced to miss a week after being hit with laryngitis in the 2008 series. But that was at a much earlier stage in the competition.
Missing a week now would have a crucial impact in the outcome of the result of the competition and any decision would as a result be highly charged.
Saturday, 4 December 2010
X Factor crisis as illness lays low Simon, Mary and One Direction's Harry... and Cheryl's feeling under the weather too
By PAUL REVOIR and SARA NATHAN