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College made X Factor wild card's heart sing

Full marks to Barking amp; Dagenham College for piggybacking on a former student's 15 minutes of fame. And what TV show would an alumnus of the illustrious Essex institution have starred in? Why, The X Factor, of course.

Luke White studied performing arts at Barking amp; Dagenham, which, its PR agency was keen to inform any journalist willing to read through the enthusiastic press release, he has described as a "wicked college".

Indeed, the Romford lad is such a fan of all things FE that his band is called Times Red; a title, FErret can only assume, that pays homage to this esteemed organ.

By all accounts, the three members of the boy band were a credit to themselves, successfully negotiating their way into the exclusive category known in reality TV parlance as the "final 75". It seemed that their journey had come to an abrupt end - cue the inevitable video montage of the trio laughing, crying and high-fiving in slow motion - when they weren't selected for the final 24.

However, Luke was in for a pleasant surprise when he received a call several weeks later telling him that Times Red was miraculously back in the running. "It turns out," a subsequent press release from the ever-effusive Wow! Marketing (yes, it does have an exclamation mark) revealed, "that the judges decided that they made a mistake and the group have been let in as an extra contender in Louis Walsh's 'groups' category." Wow! indeed.

"About a month passed and then we got a phone call," Luke explains. "I was in Ireland visiting friends at the time. We then called each other and went mental!!! It was sooo amazing." So amazing, in fact, that three exclamation marks and letter Os were needed to emphasise it.

Although, for some unknown reason, the press release fails to mention that the judges' "mistake" may have had something to do with another group being dropped from the show due to "visa issues".

Now Times Red has been given a further lifeline: it has been selected by Louis as his "wild card" entry and will face the public vote to win a spot in the live shows, which begin tomorrow.

Luke certainly seems to appreciate what FE has done for him. "College was the best time of my life," he said. "I made some great friends there and spent every day doing what I love. I worked hard when I was there, but I played hard too!" Amen to that.

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