Goldie Cheung, the 49-year-old Hong Kong native who became a notorious “X Factor” U.K. contestant for her kooky behavior and for her bump-and-grind style of performing, has quit “The Factor” U.K., making her the first finalist to quit the show.
Cheung’s exit comes just days after “The X Factor” U.K. was forced to replace Sian Phillips, another finalist in 2011, because Phillips’ criminal record prevented her from getting a U.S. visa in time for one of the show’s tapings.
The Mail on Sunday reports that Cheung abruptly quit because she was concerned that the show’s producers were exploiting her and making her the butt of jokes. Even though an “X Factor” U.K. spokesperson confirmed to the media that Cheung left the show because of “personal reasons,” Cheung denied she had left the show when she was contacted by the Mail on Sunday, which reports:
The Mail on Sunday tracked down Ms Cheung to her family’s £350,000 bungalow in Skelmersdale, Lancashire.
Asked if she had left the show, Ms Cheung, who was still dressed in her pyjamas at 4.30pm, said: “No, I haven’t left the show. Who told you that? I haven’t even told anyone that. cannot speak to you. The X Factor have told me I can’t give any interviews.”
Despite her sudden exit from the show, Ms Cheung features heavily in tonight’s and next week’s programmes, which were filmed more than three weeks ago.
A source said her decision to leave was triggered by discussions with her husband, David Webb, 52, who used to work for Chris Patten, the former British Governor of Hong Kong. Mr Patten is now chairman of the BBC.
Following a series of conversations with her husband, Hong Kong-born Ms Cheung concluded she was being used by the programme as a figure of fun – like last year’s tone-deaf act Wagner Carrilho – rather than a serious contender.
Cheung stood out from other “X Factor” contestants because of her burlesque moves and her bold flirting with “X Factor” U.K. judge Gary Barlow. During her audition, she went up to Barlow, wrapped one of her legs around him and grinded her hips on him. In “The X Factor” U.K. boot camp episode that aired on September 25, 2011, she chased Barlow around the arena until he stopped and gave her a hug. That episode was taped weeks ago.
(Click here to watch Cheung’s performance in that episode.)
Barlow was the only judge on the panel who said he did not want Cheung in the competition, but he was outvoted by the other three judges (Louis Walsh, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa Contostavlos). Walsh had been Cheung’s mentor on the show.
It is unknown at this point which contestants, if any, will replace Phillips and Cheung.
September 26, 2011 update: Cheung and Walsh have released official statements to the media regarding Cheung’s exit from the show:
Cheung: “I have decided to withdraw from the competition because I knew I would miss my family so much. I wish all the finalists the best of luck and look forward to watching them every week. ‘The X Factor’ has been a fantastic experience and very challenging for me at times. I was very grateful to Louis for offering me a place in the final, however.”
Walsh: “It was such a shame Goldie had to pull out of the competition, I thought she had great potential to entertain viewers in the live shows. But it has given someone else an amazing opportunity and although it was a hard decision of who to replace her with, I am pleased with my choice.”