Reality TV shows would appear to be one of the last things that should attract the atttention of the geographical community, but voting patterns for these often betray the same strongly defined spatial patterns that are associated with more ‘formal’ election events. (Voting patterns in the Eurovision Song Contest deserve a separate forum post of their own, and this is a topic that was recently the focus of a fine MA thesis by NUIM Geography student, Annemarie Reidy.) Those of us who maintained a keen interest in You’re A Star during its heyday between 2003-2008 will be well aware of the strong trend of localism that ran through this show, as the more successful contestants often proved to be the ones that ran (or had friends and family to run) the best local ‘televote mobilisation’ campaign and often played on their home or county links in their pleas to the voting public (often done while wearing their county jerseys). This localistic trend also meant that Dublin contestants (including this year’s Eurovision contestant, Sinead Mulvey) tended to fare poorly in You’re A Star, while the contest tended to be dominated by contestants from rural counties, such as Donegal (Mickey Joe Harte), Waterford (Chris Doran) and Westmeath (the McCauls), where stronger local and county-based identities acted as strong spurs to mass televote mobilisation efforts on these contestants’ behalf.
In a similar vein, the more defined (national) identities of the Celtic nations relative to England has often acted to help X-Factor contestants from Scotland, Ireland and Wales punch above their weight in the contest, with Scots, Welsh and Irish contestants often lasting longer in the contest than would be expected (the McDonalds in 2006) finishing in the Final 3 in the competition (Eoghan Quigg last year, Rhydian in 2007) and sometimes actually win it (I’m sure you all remember Scottish 2007 winner, Leon…actually maybe not…, but 2005 winner Shane Ward also had Irish roots). This would seem to augur well for the year’s Irish ‘hopefuls’ John and Edward, or Jedward…or does it? Alas, the fact that X-Factor televoting is not open to Republic of Ireland residents this year (unlike in 2004, when Sligo-based Tabby finished 3rd) means that the Lucan boys cannot rely on a “friends and neighbours” effect and a big Irish vote to sweep them to victory and, as such, are unlikely to surpass the success levels of other ‘novelty’ entries such as Chico (i.e. lasting until the Final 6 at best). Instead, my advice would be X-Factor devotees who want to make a few bob by banking on the “Celtic connection” to put an each-way bet on Welsh girl, Lucie Jones, who has the added attraction of coming from “a small village at the top of a hill”…that phrase just screams local identity and a Top 3 finish at the very least!!!
Update: Lucie Jones was eliminated some weeks later and Jedward ultimately did do as well Chico and progressed to bother the charts in countries such as Sweden and Azerbaijan. So much for these predictions… 😦