X FACTOR finalists Marcus Collins, Amelia Lily and Little Mix will have one man especially to thank if they are crowned 2011 winner this weekend - Sheffield’s own starmaker Eliot Kennedy.
The Grammy and Ivor Novello award winner, who has developed and written for everyone from The Spice Girls to Celine Dion, is the show’s talent development producer.
His day job is usually producing chart stars at his Sheffield-based Steelworks recording studio, when he’s not songwriting with best pal Gary Barlow and rock legend Bryan Adams.
But for the past two months he has been living and working with all the X Factor finalists to transform the wannabes into superstars.
The show ends with two live shows at Wembley Arena tonight on ITV1 at 8pm and tomorrow, at 7.30pm.
Eliot has featured heavily alongside all four judges, Kelly, Tulisa, Louis and Gary, with one big difference - he has helped to mentor all the acts, developing their style, delivery, interpretation and how they emotionally connect with their songs and audiences.
He invited The Star for an exclusive look behind the scenes at the X Factor studio, a short walk from Wembley stadium. It looks like an ordinary office block on the outside. Inside it’s anything but.
The familiar stage set, dazzling and spectacular, with its flashing lights, big screens and indoor pyrotechnics, is even more impressive than it looks on TV. The seating area appears smaller though, more an intimate theatre.
There are countless production staff, metal rope ladders hanging from the ceiling, microphones and cameras everywhere.
The transformation of the elaborate sets between acts is breathtaking, like watching the speedy experts who change tyres in a F1 pit stop.
Eliot, the man everyone wants a reaction from, said: “Working on the X Factor has been absolutely fantastic. It’s the first time I’ve done this but it felt so natural because artist development, from the Spice Girls onwards, has been my thing.
“All three finalists could win. Marcus is a showman, a great performer. Amelia is the comeback kid, very resilient and a powerhouse. Little Mix is the first girl band to reach X Factor final, with a huge fan base.
“It’s been a blast, especially working with Gary. He’s not just a national treasure, he’s my best friend - I wrote my first number one with him, Everything Changes, for Take That.”
n South Yorkshire’s Louis Tomlinson and his band One Direction are guest this weekend with JLS, Michael Buble, Westlife, Leona Lewis, and Coldplay and he finalists will duet with their mentors.
Gary and Marcus are singing Billy Joel’s Always A Woman.