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'X Factor' U.K. Format Change Draws Complaints, 'Hunger Games' Comparisons

X Factor TCA 2013 L
Frank Micelotta / FOX
"The X Factor"

The tweak of the Simon Cowell show saw some contestants get ditched just before the "boot camp" stage of the competition.

LONDON -- ITV's weekend episodes of Simon Cowell singing competition The X Factor drew a slew of complaints with a format tweak that some viewers compared to the battle to death the protagonists of the Hunger Games book and film franchise must endure.

The Guardian reported that regulator Ofcom and ITV had received a total of 80 complaints as of early this week.

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In the new "musical chairs" round of the show, contestants hope to secure a seat on stage to confirm that they can advance to the "boot camp" stage of the competition.

Members of the live audience chanted "seat, seat, seat" for performers they liked or "swap, swap, swap" if they wanted them replaced by one of the four judges, including Gary Barlow and Sharon Osbourne.

The format change meant that some contestants looked to have made it through to the "boot camp" stage of the show -- only to be dropped at the last minute. One singer who was affected was left in tears as she was replaced by another contestant, the Guardian said.

The weekend shows aired live from Wembley Arena.

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Singer Lily Allen was among viewers who complained on Twitter that the tweak meant the show had turned "fully mean." Some viewers compared the show's feel to that of The Hunger Games and a "blood sport," according to the paper.

"The new boot-camp twist brings genuine jeopardy to the competition and is just one of the ways the series has evolved this year," an ITV spokeswoman said. "All contestants were briefed in advance on the new format, and as with all stages of the competition, support was available for everyone before and after their performances."

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai