By PAUL SIMS and SARA NATHAN
Distraught: Amelia, flanked by Kelly Rowland and X Factor host Dermot O'Leary
The X Factor was plunged into fresh controversy last night as the parents of 16-year-old contestant Amelia Lily branded her exit from the show 'cruel' and 'disgusting'.
Up to 13.5million viewers tuned in to watch as the teenager and four other hopefuls were booted out by their 'mentors' on Sunday.
The decision to have the show's judges each axe one of their four acts in the first week of live finals was billed as an exciting twist.
'I was so upset': Amelia Lily said her exit from the show was 'cruel' and 'disgusting'
But Amelia's furious mother, housewife Aranka Oliver, 47, said: 'What's happened is so cruel, it's disgusting. We are very upset by it all. The rule to kick a contestant from each category out was thrown on everyone so unexpectedly.
'You have to wonder whose decision it was, and why they did it – maybe it was [executive producer] Simon Cowell's.'
Singing no more: 16-year-old Amelia was pictured leaving the ITV studios following her appearance on This Morning
She went on to criticise how participants are treated over the course of the programme, saying: 'I know it's a competition, but I don't know why the contestants are built up so much and then so easily dropped.
'You have to expect ups and downs in the entertainment industry, but this was very cruel. The contestants are put in a vulnerable position.
Visibly upset: Luke Lucas didn't take it well when he was told he hadn't made it
'It's not necessarily the best singers who get through. You really don't know what the judges or producers are thinking.'
She also claimed that her daughter's mentor, U.S. singer Kelly Rowland, had spent a lot of time abroad, 'so she wasn't able to give Amelia a lot of mentoring'.
Amelia's father Barry, 46, a plumber and decorator, added: 'The way she lost her place was just a very harsh way for the show to do it.
Feeling the strain: Gary Barlow admitted he thought the age bar might need to be raised
'They feed the kids this and that and lead them up the garden path.'
Sunday's scenes came a week after the boys' mentor, Gary Barlow, said that some younger contestants were too fragile to cope with rejection following the on-screen breakdown of schoolboy Luke Lucas, also 16.
Contestants have to be at least 16 to audition for the show – but Barlow admitted that the age limit may need to be raised.
Going home: Essex duo 2 Shoes arrives at the ITV studios this morning to give their post-elimination interview
So long, farewell: Johnjo Kerr and James Michael bid the show goodbye
Yesterday Amelia, from Middlesbrough, said: 'I was really angry about the twist. I couldn't even talk, I was so upset. But it's a TV show, so the more drama the better.
Stocking up: Rhythmix made a trip to the grocery store
'I feel for the person who is in this position next week. It's like having your heart ripped out.
'It is horrifying, being stood on that stage in front of a nation watching you, not knowing if you are safe or going home.'
An X Factor spokesman said the twist gave 16 acts 'the chance to perform in a full show' so that the judges 'could decide which acts they believed could go on to win'.
Getting along well: Members of The Risk and Nu Vibe greet each other outside the house the morning after the evictions
Survivor: Johnny Robinson was put through following his camp Cher tribute performance on Saturday
Watch vdo clips below:
The X Factor: Amelia Lily rocks Billie Jean - The X Factor 2011 Live Show 1
Amelia Lily's audition - The X Factor 2011 - itv.com/xfactor
The X Factor 2011 Bootcamp - "Amelia Lily"
Amelia Lily - The X Factor Judges Houses 2011
Amelia Lily - X Factor - Adele - Someone Like You