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Nic Ladds 10th Dec 2008 - 17:31

Hallelujah - finally we get our Saturday nights back

After 18 long weeks, The X Factor reaches it's climax on Saturday night when the remaining acts - Alexandra Burke, Eoghan Quigg and JLS - take to the stage for the finale, and their chance to be crowned 2008 winner.

And then there were three

The betting suggests Alexandra will sing her way to the title with ease but don't you believe it for a minute - who's to say our odds compilers are right? Everyone in the William Hill office has a favourite - it's created a bit of a debate that you're welcome to join in with.

Nic Ladds is backing Alexandra - she's the current 4/7 favourite. Michael Taylor fancies a bit of Eoghan at 7/2, while James Kennedy really likes the lads in JLS, priced at 3/1. Click the links to read their opinions, and leave a comment if you agree (or disagree) with their views.

View all our current The X Factor betting

We'll be covering the action from start to finish with our betlive service - betting will be open at least as long as the phone-lines are - so you can watch the acts before you place your bet.

Saturday's show promises to be a glittering affair. Each act will perform a minimum of three songs: their favourite from a previous show, a Christmas hit, and a duet with a celebrity artist. Rumours have been flying around internet forums and showbiz columns about who's singing with who, and it looks like we won't know officially until they step out onto the stage. The more popular theories are that Alexandra will be paired with super-star Beyoncé Knowles, JLS are going to be strutting their stuff with Irish crooners Westlife, while Eoghan will be teaming up with the re-formed Boyzone.

What we do know is that after those duets, one act will leave the show - leaving the last two to each give their version of the winners' single, a cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'. Then, all they can do is wait nervously backstage as the great British public make up their minds.

Have your say

Who do you think will win? Who do you want to win? Who's been your favourite act of the series? What do you think of the show in general? Whatever your feelings, however kind or harsh, get involved in the debate by leaving a comment in the box to the right of any The X Factor article - the five we like the best will each win a £10 free bet.

In the lead up to the final, we're offering a wide range of special markets - from who will finish third, to forecasts, to how many viewers the show will get. And don't forget - when it all kicks-off, don't worry if you didn't get a bet on, as we'll have all the angles covered with our betlive service, which will be available until the phone-lines close.

The long road to The X Factor final

Back in April, a record 182,000 hopefuls started the whole process, with four months of auditions in front of the shows' producers then, if good (or bad) enough, before the four judges themselves. Auditions took place in Birmingham, London, Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow - a true nationwide search for a winner.

After months of sitting through the very best (and worst) the UK had to offer, the judges sent 150 or so acts to Boot Camp to face further auditions, before narrowing them down to just 24. The lucky chosen ones were then sent to four different locations across the globe.

Simon Cowell took the boys to Barbados, Cheryl Cole took the girls to Cannes, Dannii Minogue took the over 25s to St. Tropez and Louis Walsh, of course, took the groups to Ireland.

Once the live shows began, the cream quickly rose to the top, and it became obvious who the ones to beat were going to be. Acts like Bad Lashes, Girl Band and Scott Bruton were soon found to be lacking the real quality needed to last the distance; while the one person who arguably shouldn't even have been there, Daniel Evans, outlasted early favourites Austin Drage and Laura White.

Once we were left with the better acts of the final 12, young Blackburn lass Diana Vickers was made favourite - even getting a bye from the producers in week five due to a bout of laryngitis. She wasn't to last though, being eliminated a month later after both Ruth Lorenzo and Rachel Hylton had been voted off.

Her elimination has left us with the final three hopefuls, dreaming of that million-pound record deal, a probable Christmas number one, and fame and fortune. It's time to face the music...

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