The X Factor 2014: Youngsters get reprieve from six-chair challenge

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The X Factor 2014 judge Cheryl Cole has confirmed that younger contestants are not swapped during the controversial 'six-chair challenge' at Boot Camp.

The twist - which debuted during last year's series - sees each judge find out which category they've got after auditions, before whittling them down to teams of six.

If they like an act they hear, they give them a spot in one of their six chairs - and whoever's sitting in their chairs at the end progresses to the Judges' Houses stage.

However, if a judge hears an act they think is better once they've filled their six chairs, they can choose to send someone packing to free up their chair.

The challenge has been branded cruel and harsh - and there were concerns it could upset children after the show's contestant age limit was lowered to 14 years.

However, speaking at a press conference for the launch of the new series earlier this week, Cheryl revealed that hopefuls under the previous age limit of 16 are guaranteed to keep their seats if they're given one.

"I actually had a girl in my category that was 15, and if we sat her in the chair, we never took them out of the chair," she said. "So if they were under the age limit of 16 they never got removed from the chair."

Presenter Dermot O'Leary also defended the new format, commenting: "It's a good test of character at the end of the day. There's nothing in comparison to the pressure they'll feel when they go live.

"We put a lot of people through to boot camp, we've had situations in the past where we've had to cull people without singing a note, so everyone gets their chance."

The eleventh series of The X Factor begins this Saturday and Sunday at 8.00pm on ITV.

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