With less than 24 hours to go before Saturday's eagerly anticipated season finale of "Britain's Got Talent," the question has suddenly switched from, "Can Susan Boyle win?" to, "Will Susan Boyle even show up?"
And if she does show — and "BGT" broadcaster ITV has said she definitely will — which SuBo will it be? Will the audience get another glimpse of the frumpy, shy, 48-year-old Scottish church volunteer with the angelic voice that first captured their hearts just six weeks ago, or will they see the frazzled, F-bomb-dropping overnight celebrity, who is reportedly on the brink of quitting the show over the sudden crush of tabloid fame?
According to an Associated Press report, the U.K. is "buzzing with concern" over whether Boyle's nerves will get the better of her. Part of that concern is based on a series of incidents this week in which Boyle appeared to be crumbling under the scrutiny, including one in which she is alleged to have gotten into a shouting match with two reporters who were reportedly taunting her at a London hotel.
The situation has gotten so bad that BBC News reported on Friday that Boyle had been moved to a "safe house" as she prepares for the finale.
While judge Piers Morgan went on national television in England on Thursday to say that Boyle was so distraught she nearly quit the show, on Friday an unnamed spokesperson for the program said the finale would go ahead with Boyle's participation as planned.
Morgan also posted a lengthy, passionate plea on his blog on Thursday for fans and detractors to understand the pressure Boyle is facing.
"Imagine, if you will, being anonymous for 47 years of your life, and then suddenly being propelled into genuine world superstardom," Morgan wrote. "For many people, it would be a dream come true. All that fame and attention, and the prospect of all that money to come with it down the line. But let me tell you now, there is a downside to fame. People start criticising you, sniping at you, trying to trip you up, belittle you, harass you. The pressure from sudden global success can be enormous. Everywhere you go, people recognise you and want a piece of you — an autograph, a photo, a quick song, a chat to their mum on a mobile phone."
He goes on to say that living in that "insane, relentless goldfish bowl" can take a toll on the person and their family, as the fun of being thrust into international acclaim bleeds away and "you start to feel jittery, self-conscious, paranoid, and fractious. Then imagine, too, having all this go on when you are days away from the final of a competition that can make or break your career and your life. A competition that everyone expects you to win, a fact that in itself piles on even more pressure. This is exactly the situation that Susan Boyle now finds herself in. And my heart absolutely bleeds for the poor woman."
A former psychologist for the "Big Brother" show told BBC News that Boyle — who had learning difficulties when she was younger due to oxygen deprivation during her birth — should be withdrawn from the contest to protect her mental health.
"If 'Britain's Got Talent' was an experiment in any university, we would have to draw a line on that experiment, because ethically, we would be putting the person at the heart of that experiment through emotional turmoil," Professor David Wilson told the BBC. "It's a duty of care; it's about a moral responsibility. The harrowing week that Piers was describing hasn't been created by the press. The harrowing week has been created by the programme."
Morgan told BBC Radio 5 Live in an interview this week that the show provides psychological and medical help to contestants if they ask for it, but he could not say if Boyle had requested any such assistance.