Nicholas McDonald still has the X-Factor

Nicholas McDonald's classmates at St Aidan's High show their support
Nicholas McDonald's classmates at St Aidan's High show their support
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Motherwell’s X-Factor star Nicholas McDonald had never heard of 80s band Spandau Ballet until he had to perform their hit single “True”.

But in the critical first live show of the gladiatorial-style TV knockout competition he sailed through the vintage retro number with flying colours.

Angels supporting X-Factor's Nicholas McDonald

Angels supporting X-Factor's Nicholas McDonald

In numerous Facebook and Twitter comments, people old enough to remember the song from first time around reckoned Nicholas (16) was dramatically more impressive than the original.

Tabloid news reports - and blog bletherers galore - touted the perceived talents of their own pet performers from Saturday’s do-or-die show, but in a welter of not-so-subtle oblique comments it was obvious the judges were in broad agreement with the bookies - and Nicholas really is in with a good chance of winning.

We spoke to him hours before he was due to face his latest big test, and he declared himself ready to give the performance of his life.

Apart from his family - with him in London for the weekend - he said his main inspiration was the “incredible” home support in Motherwell.

It isn’t possible to say exactly what proportion of the total votes came from this immediate local area, but all the evidence suggests literally thousands of local fans were doing everything they could to get Nicholas through on the following day.

That’s even before legions of fans in places including Hamilton, Carluke and other peripheral areas are included.

Meanwhile Facebook comments (including some from the USA, where music fans only know Nicholas from YouTube footage) point to massive and still-growing support as the contest gets set to enter its decisive phase.

Judge Gary Barlow told Nicholas that he was singing a song from a decade that must seem “like a period drama” but that he had “completely nailed it” - adding: “(fellow judge) Nicole wants to adopt you - you’ve got everyone on your side.”

Nicole, not lost for words, said she loved his style from the start, but that Satruday was “the first night I’ve noticed these baby blue eyes”.

And - possibly crucially - judge Louis Walsh, determined to see the best act win in what will be his final tour of duty on X-Factor - said he was proud to be Nicholas’s mentor.

He also predicted: “I think you’re going to be here for a very long time”.

Despite the international enthusiasm for Nicholas, and the fact he hasn’t put a foot wrong, some down-beat commentators suggested he could find himself in the bottom two on Saturday - although no evidence was offered to support this idea.

Motherwell’s super-talented songster is still very much in the spotlight, and already training hard for the next nail-biting round of Britain’s most exacting and popular talent show.