Six months ago, JFS schoolboy Adir Tov was studying hard for his GCSEs and looking forward to going on tour to Israel with his friends.
Now the 16-year-old is the sole British contestant on Israel’s X Factor — and is about to start singing on the TV competition’s live shows as one fifth of a boy band.
“My grandma convinced me to audition,” Adir said this week. “She lives in Israel and saw that they were launching a version of the show there.
“At the time, I had no idea the show would be as big as it is now. But I sent them a video of me singing Listen by Beyoncé. They came back to me saying they wanted me to fly out and audition in front of the judges.”
Adir, a keen amateur singer who lives in Edgware with his mother Sabine, had previously reached the semi-final of the Teen Star competition in London and jumped at the chance to take part in a more demanding contest.
But he had to wait until he had finished his exams — and gone to the JFS end-of-year prom — before jetting off to Tel Aviv.
There he joined thousands of other hopefuls desperate to impress the show’s judges: pop singer Ivri Lider, rock singer Ramis Fortis, composer Mosher Peretz, R&B singer Shiri Maimon — and the season’s host, supermodel Bar Rafaeli.
“I sang Abba’s The Winner Takes It All’ and was shocked by the judges comments”, he said. “Ivri cried, which was amazing. And Shiri said: ‘Adir, you are adir, which means ‘great’ in Hebrew”.
After sailing through the first round of boot camp a few months later, Adir found himself in the final 40 candidates. But his hopes faded when he was told he had not made it through to the third round at the judges’ houses.
“I was gutted because I thought I was going home,” he said. “But they then brought me and four other guys back to the stage.
“They said they wanted the five of us to form a band. We thought it was weird because we were so different — we range in age from 16 to 26 and all have very different sounds. But for me it was a second chance so I immediately said yes.”
The band, called Fusion, features members are from France, Colombia, the USA and Israel, singing alongside Adir.
He said: “When they called out our name to say we had made it through to the live shows, we were shocked but so, so happy.”
With a short break in filming, Adir returned to London to begin his course at the Institute of Contemporary Music.
But he is now back in Israel and rehearsing with the band every day ahead of the X Factor’s first live show on December 18.
Adir said he is slowly getting used to the trappings of X Factor fame — not least, the screaming schoolgirls.
“It’s so crazy,” he said. “We get spotted by groups of primary school kids. They don’t know if it’s definitely you, they just stare at your face until they finally run up to you screaming.”