Tearful Paul Akister received an outpouring of support from angry X Factor fans after he was eliminated from the TV talent show.
Social media was in meltdown after the Lancaster soul man was booted off the show following a tense sing-off on Sunday night.
Akister received the lowest number of votes from the public after being placed in the bottom two alongside Jay James.
This was despite an astonishing vocal in the sing-off as Paul sang ‘Clown’ by Emeli Sande.
James gave an emotional rendition of ‘Tears In Heaven’ by Eric Clapton but it was clear Paul was superior.
It was down to the judging panel to decide between them.
Simon Cowell and Melanie ‘Mel B’ Brown gave one vote each, siding with their own acts.
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini voted for Paul and Louis Walsh then had the chance to save the Lancaster man.
But instead the Irishman voted for James, saying he couldn’t split them and wanted to hear the public’s verdict.
Host Dermot O’Leary then announced Akister was out of the competition to shocked groans in the TV audience.
A distraught Paul looked stunned and angry at the result and was unable to speak to O’Leary immediately after his elimination.
But when interviewed later on ITV2 round-up show The Xtra Factor, he said: “I’m just gutted it’s ended now.
“Maybe I didn’t show enough of my personality. I haven’t showcased my true vocals on the show.”
Akister, a former Ripley school pupil who lives in Bowerham, was trending on Twitter in the aftermath of the result.
Celebrities were amongst those who expressed fury at his elimination.
Much of the wrath was directed at Walsh, who also axed Paul from the Judges’ Houses stage of the competition in 2013.
Coronation Street star Catherine Tyldesley said: “How on god’s green earth is Paul going home...has the world gone mad?”
Ian ‘H’ Watkins of pop band Steps said: “Leave with your head held high Paul! You were robbed!”
Matt Cardle, who won The X Factor in 2010, said: “Gutted to see Paul Akister go. Incredible voice.”
Paul sang ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen on the Saturday night edition of the ITV1 programme and received positive comments from the judges.
But with other acts also doing well, and with Paul the bookmakers’ favourite to be eliminated in the week running up to the programme, Sunday’s results night was always going to be tough.
Many have blamed his exit on how Akister was portrayed on last week’s programme, where he was forced to defend himself after Simon Cowell told him to “lighten up”.
Eight acts now remain in the hunt for a recording contract and a shot at the Christmas number one single.
Watch Paul sing ‘Clown’ in the sing-off last night here HERE