X Factor cocaine shame: I feel responsible but I can’t follow Frankie around says Gary
Published 10/11/2011 | 17:03
X FACTOR judge Gary Barlow has admitted that he feels responsible for former contestant hopeful Frankie Cocozza going astray.
The party-loving teenager was booted out of the show on Tuesday after apparently boasting about drugs, which programme bosses said broke the rules.
He is understood to have been overheard speaking about cocaine use by show producers.
His mentor Barlow said he feels a "level of responsibility" for Cocozza's departure and also blamed fellow panelist Louis Walsh for giving the 18-year-old negative comments on Saturday night.
In the wake of Cocozza's departure the four acts who were axed by their own mentors have been given a lifeline to return to the competition.
James Michael, Amelia Lily, 2 Shoes and Jonjo Kerr each have a chance to rejoin the contest alongside the six remaining finalists on Saturday.
In a press conference announcing the new twist, Barlow said: "I do feel a level of responsibility towards him but unfortunately I can't follow him around all week.
"We try and take care of them while they are in our company. I said to him on a regular basis 'You are a young guy, have fun but work hard at the same time'.
"We have all played our part in what has happened with Frankie and I don't think any of us are guilt free in that.
"Especially as I am sat here with all of the press, we have all encouraged Frankie not only to be good but to be bad as well.
"We have enjoyed it and written about it, the show has enjoyed the publicity about it, but it has gone too far out of control for us as a show to have him still on here but I do feel a level of responsibility."
When asked about what led to Cocozza's behaviour, Barlow said: "I read messages, whether they were online, in the newspaper or on Twitter and they were all telling him he is not good enough.
"And the audience booed him on Saturday so I can kind of see where his life has led to in the last seven days and I don't feel good about it at all and I don't think anyone who has contributed to it should.
"I don't want to isolate it to an incident but I felt Louis your comments to Frankie on Saturday night weren't encouraging."
Walsh retorted that he was "only being honest".
Barlow said Cocozza had always admitted he "wasn't good enough" .
"He has been stupid, he has broken the rules, but he has got to live with this for the rest of his life and that's why I feel bad for him," the Take That star added.
Fellow judge Tulisa Contostavlos jumped to Barlow's defence, adding: "I think Gary did all that he could do. At the end of the day he is not a babysitter.
"How many parents do you see with their own children out of control? Gary only met Frankie a few months ago.
"We can't put this on Gary. Everyone's their own person and Frankie made his own mistakes."
American judge Kelly Rowland joked: "He's got kids of his own."
The 18-year-old wannabe returned to his Brighton home yesterday after admitting his life had gone "out of control" during the series.
He had been seen on a series of boozy nights out and had boasted of his sexual conquests, with the names of several lovers tattooed on his buttocks.
On Sunday's results show it emerged he had only slept for half an hour on Saturday night.
Many viewers were astonished that the singer remained in the competition following a below-par performance at the weekend.
On leaving, Cocozza apologised to his mentor, Gary Barlow, as well as fans.
His behaviour has led to two investigations by Ofcom into possible breaches of its programme code.
Cocozza's departure is the latest drama to engulf the show this year as it struggles to match the viewing figures of previous years.
The four contestants who were dropped in the first live show will now vie to re-enter the competition. They each exited without facing a public vote after their own mentors were forced to choose who they should sacrifice in a surprise twist.
The lines to vote in acts were to be opened at 4pm today and will close an hour into Saturday's live show on ITV1, programme makers said.
The successful act who returns to the show on Saturday night will perform either a song by Queen or Lady Gaga, but will have had a shorter time to rehearse than the other acts taking part.
They could also face being immediately axed on Sunday night, programme makers said.
Lily is not only tipped as the act to be voted back in but she is also one of the bookies favourite performers to win the show.
Bookmaker Betfair are placing the pink-haired teenager at 6-1 to be crowned X Factor champion.
Rowland said: "I feel like it is really good that these acts are getting a second chance and the great thing is that the public is getting a chance to vote.
"We got a chance to work with all of these acts and we have bonded with them. The fact they are getting another opportunity to come forth and bring their talents forward is really exciting."