Why was X Factor so cruel to our daughter?

Amelia Lily’s parents attack decision to have judges axe one of their acts 

Distraught: Amelia, flanked by Kelly Rowland and X Factor host Dermot O'Leary

The X Factor was plunged into fresh controversy last night as the parents of 16-year-old contestant Amelia Lily branded her exit from the show ‘cruel’ and ‘disgusting’.

Up to 13.5million viewers tuned in to watch as the teenager and four other hopefuls were booted out by their ‘mentors’ on Sunday.

The decision to have the show’s judges each axe one of their four acts in the first week of live finals was billed as an exciting twist.

But Amelia’s furious mother, housewife Aranka Oliver, 47, said: ‘What’s happened is so cruel, it’s disgusting. We are very upset by it all. The rule to kick a contestant from each category out was thrown on everyone so unexpectedly.

‘You have to wonder whose decision it was, and why they did it – maybe it was [executive producer] Simon Cowell’s.’

She went on to criticise how participants are treated over the course of the programme, saying: ‘I know it’s a competition, but I don’t know why the contestants are built up so much and then so easily dropped.

‘You have to expect ups and downs in the entertainment industry, but this was very cruel. The contestants are put in a vulnerable position.

‘It’s not necessarily the best singers who get through. You really don’t know what the judges or producers are thinking.’

She also claimed that her daughter’s mentor, U.S. singer Kelly Rowland, had spent a lot of time abroad, ‘so she wasn’t able to give Amelia a lot of mentoring’.

Amelia’s father Barry, 46, a plumber and decorator, added: ‘The way she lost her place was just a very harsh way for the show to do it.

Feeling the strain: Gary Barlow admitted he thought the age bar might need to be raised(Feeling the strain: Gary Barlow admitted he thought the age bar might need to be raised) 

‘They feed the kids this and that and lead them up the garden path.’

Sunday’s scenes came a week after the boys’ mentor, Gary Barlow, said that some younger contestants were too fragile to cope with rejection following the on-screen breakdown of schoolboy Luke Lucas, also 16.

Contestants have to be at least 16 to audition for the show – but Barlow admitted that the age limit may need to be raised.

He told the Daily Mail: ‘Sixteen is just too young to be in a competition with this kind of pressure.’

Mrs Oliver warned other youngsters hoping to enter the contest: ‘It’s a lot of pressure to take on. Anyone who wants to audition next year, prepare yourself.’