Motherwell X-Factor star Nicholas McDonald now faces a straight battle with bookies’ favourite Tamera Foster to win - and he needs every vote he can gather this weekend.
After another faultless performance on Saturday - when his version of Arms of the Angel won unanimous praise from judges - the 16-year-old is this week getting set to perform a Michael Jackson number for Saturday’s show, which has a disco theme.
His mum Eileen - who confirmed it definitely won’t be “Thriller”, even although it’s Hallowe-en - reckons it will show Nicholas has a much broader repertoire than many of his fans across the UK will have been aware of until now.
But while his star quality has won unstinting praise from the judges, week after week, she fears some of his fans may assume he’s got the contest “in the bag” and that he no longer needs their votes.
“In fact it’s exactly the opposite,” she said on Wednesday. “We’re now at the time of year when people are getting involved in social nights out as we head towards Christmas, and some people will be catching up on the show later rather than staying in to watch it.”
She added: “We desperately need those votes this weekend. I’m appealing through the Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker to everyone who wants him to win - please vote this weekend, and give him even more support than you have already.”
This week the ultimate prize may seem tantalisingly close, even if favourite Tamera Foster - currently embroiled in sensational newspaper coverage about an alleged off-screen misdemeanour - is tipped to win at odds of 17 /10.
With minor variations in odds all the bookies see the show as a two-horse race between her and Nicholas, with the would-be third placed contestant a good way behind.
But while bookies have been wrong before, and Tamera is still in front, anyone who follows the show regularly knows that one good or bad result from either hopeful could win or lose the competition at a stroke.
And everything depends on the voting - because even while Nicholas has a huge following across the UK it’s Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker who this week hold the key to victory, since their backing could make the decisive difference.
Meanwhile Nicholas - who spends a lot of time on Twitter messaging his support - is cheered by the massive and ever-growing fan club In across the UK and beyond.
In this week’s Times and Speaker we’ve incorrectly identified the uncle who appeared in the X-Factor audience (disguised in Jimmy wig) as Brian Paton, whereas it was in fact Nicholas’s uncle Hugh Friel from Bothwell.
However naturally while the whole McDonald clan cannot make it down to London every week every member of the extended family has been doing his or her level best to drum up support on the home turf.
Led by Eileen, and with solid backing from, for example, Lisini Leisure (whose Dalzell Park venue has been a regular spot for Nicholas), they are pulling out all the stops to make sure the Lanarkshire support gets stronger by the week.
We’ll have more regular coverage of Nicholas McDonald’s bold bid to seize the X-Factor crown in next issue.