TEENAGE X Factor contestant George Shelley narrowly evaded eviction from the competition this week - and believes his band’s staying power is down to their popularity with female fans.

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The former Weston College student, who is part of Union J, was forced to sing for survival on the prime-time ITV show when host Dermot O’Leary announced they and solo contestant Jade Ellis had received the lowest number of votes.

George, aged 19, said: “When we found out we were in the bottom two we were quite shocked. It was heartbreaking.

“Singing for survival was a massive blur. We know we had a lot to live up to and had to put everything into it.”

Even though judge Tulisa supported her contestant Jade, the other three judges backed the popular boy band.

After the show they took to the social network site Twitter – where they already have almost half a million followers - and apologised to fans.

George said: “We said we were sorry if we let our fans down and a lot of the responses were that they thought we were safe and so they voted for other acts.

“We think that’s maybe the reason for what happened on Sunday. There is so much pressure on now and we want to come back with a bang.”

Despite the former Kings of Wessex pupil’s strict rehearsal timetable, George and the band have still been able to enjoy a life of fame with trips to film premieres, mentor sessions with pop icon Robbie Williams and meet and greet sessions with fans.

One session even had to be cancelled due to the number of swooning teens who were clamouring to meet the four-piece band.

George, from Clevedon, who left his job in Weston’s Costa Coffee to join the show, said: “The shopping centre got so overcrowded, before we even showed up, that girls were getting hurt.

“There was not enough security so it had to be cancelled.

“It’s amazing to know that we have that support but we just need them to vote.

After talking about his female fan attention George denied rumours that he is dating fellow contestant Ella Henderson, which have been circulating in the media.

He said: “No we are not dating and I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment.”

George added: “I miss all my friends and family and it’s difficult sometimes because we are constantly on the go, and while the focus is on the competition it’s important to remember what life is like back home to keep us grounded.”

George’s mum, Toni Harris, met up with him on Sunday to offer some comfort after the live show.

She said: “There is a horrendous amount of pressure on him and the band. At the moment it’s like he belongs to the X Factor but he has respect for what the show is doing for him.

“Just because they have had this admiration from fans it does not mean that they will definitely make it through and right now they are working harder.”

George and Union J will perform once again on Saturday’s live show.

To read more about George and the band and see behind-the-scenes shots from the show visit www.westonmercury.co.uk

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