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Byline: By Rick Fulton

HERE are the 12 acts who are praying they have what it takes to taste X Factor glory.

Whittled down from 75,000 hopefuls, the final dozen will start singing for your vote tomorrow.

But, for one act, getting so far will be a bittersweet experience - because someone will also be booted off the show.

All the acts will sing for survival in the first studio round and each week one will go home until the grand final in mid-December.

The two acts with the least number of public votes every Saturday will get the chance to perform again, before the judges - Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh - decide who they want to keep.

Bookies make Irishman Shayne Ward their strong 5/2 favourite to win. But as the battle begins, here's our run-down of each of the acts and their chances of success


THE Londoner has been a backing singer for Gabrielle for the past four years, featuring on the artist's hit singles Out Of Reach and The Sun Doesn't Have To Shine To Make Me Smile.

A property developer, Maria, 30, made it to the last 10 of Simon's bootcamp on The X Factor last year.

Cowell later admitted he made a mistake not taking her further.

Maria, who got married the day after bootcamp, is in Sharon's team this time



HE can't sing but thinks he has a great body and is a favourite of Sharon, whose team he's in.

The 34-year-old, who lives in London, was born in Wales but moved to Morocco when he was a baby after his parents separated.

He was brought up by his grandparents until he was a teenager and was a mountain goatherd until the age of 13. He moved back to England at 14 and has worked as a stripper

ODDS: 20/1


IS HE Elvis or just Shakin' Stevens? The 21-year-old student from Belfast is an Elvis nut and has been singing for as long as he can remember.

When he was four, he used to wake the house early by putting on a CD and singing along.

He has taken part in karaoke contests, with his biggest win being pounds 100

ODDS: 14/1


SHAYNE was rocked this week when it was revealed his father is in prison for rape - but it hasn't dented his popularity.

In Louis's team and clearly the Irishman's favourite to win, Shayne will be 21 on Sunday.

The sales assistant from Manchester made the final 30 of Popstars: The Rivals as a teenager

ODDS: 5/2


THE four sisters have already tasted the big time, supporting Westlife for a huge gig in Sligo in 2003.

Westlife's Shane Filan was so impressed he invited them to play at his wedding.

Sharon, 28, Sinead, 23, Marie, 21, and Laura, 18, are in the band full-time.

They are more The Nolans than The Corrs

ODDS: 20/1


THEY got to the final five last year and Simon has them as one of his final four acts this time.

The band are made up of brothers Mike, 21, and Anthony Hannides, 18, their cousin Simon Vitsaides, 22, and pal Phil Kemish, 21.

They won an MTV Base Lounge Open Mic contest in 2004

ODDS: 13/2


THEY may be brothers but the Pembertons are nothing like The Proclaimers.

Carl, 24, and Andrew, 28, are beefy rockers who know how rough the music business can be.

Five years ago, they quit their jobs and went to London. Two years later, they were in debt and had to admit defeat.They are in Simon's team

ODDS: 9/2


A LONDON dustman desperate to give his wife and two kids a better life, Andy is in Sharon's team and his easygoing nature should be a vote winner. He leftschool at 15 and has had a variety of jobs, including a stint as a bus driver and working at McDonald's.

Andy has been session singing for 10 years and in 1999 he and his band signed a three-single deal which collapsed

ODDS: 7/1


HAVING just reached the grand final of a British unsigned acts competition, Nicholas, 18, has had to side-step this contest because of his remarkable progress in The X Factor.

Two years ago, the teenager, who has just finished his A-Levels, also won a singing competition on Choice FM. He clearly has talent and could be popular with the public

ODDS: 13/2


THE bubbly foursome are favourites to be the first voted off.

Fleur East, 17, Nicola Owusu-Arontoh, 16, Stephanie Yamson, 17, and Vivienne Umeh, 17, are all studying for A-Levels and have known each other since nursery.

They performed at Choice FM's 291 event, got to the final of the Essex Star Search, performed at the Youth World 2003 and came third two years running at the London battle of the boroughs

ODDS: 33/1


THE accounts manager from London always seems to be smiling but her early life held a real tragedy.

Brenda, 36, and her brother Rodney were brought up in Luton by her two aunts, Pam and Gloria, after their parents died in a car crash. Brenda was just four at the time.

She now lives in London with her two kids and husband. As part of Sharon's team, she's less Rowetta and more Chaka Khan

ODDS: 20/1


CHENAI entered last year and was praised by the judges in her first audition, only to be rejected at bootcamp.

The 19-year-old receptionist, of Bradford, who is in Louis's team, says her gran told her that she received messages from God telling Chenai to enter the competition again as last year was not the end of her X Factor journey.

She has also entered many local contests, notably winning urban voice 2003 at Jongleurs

ODDS: 20/1
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 14, 2005
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