With one well-stacked heel flat to the floor Simon Cowell is already driving roughshod all over the Saturday night TV schedule with his ITV1 juggernaut ”â The X Factor.
12.6 million people tuned in to watch the first episode last Saturday ”â equalling the highest ever ratings record for an opening episode of the TV ”Ëtalent show’.
The allure of a new-look judging panel featuring housewives’ favourite Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos (from N-Dubz, innit) and ex-Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland along with show stalwart Louis Walsh was clearly too strong to resist.
Either that or people actually enjoy watching the usual parade of freaks, geeks and wannabes that pop up at the auditions.
You know the type ”â usually one homemade Jester hat away from the fashion police”Â¦ one pie from an early grave… the deluded offspring of pushy stage mums”Â¦ virginal spinsters and the tragically bullied”Â¦ all encouraged by the smirking judges to launch into their cat-in-a-mangle vocals for our ”Ëviewing pleasure’.
It’s the acceptable face of the Theatre of Cruelty – the Carnival of the Bizarre. Every nasty Tweet that gets posted”Â¦ every sniggered aside ”â it’s the modern equivalent of pelting rotten veg at society’s unfortunates.
There’s no question that most applicants willingly put themselves in the firing line, but does this really mean they are ”Ëasking for it’ when the public backlash inevitably begins?
I’m still haunted by the memory of 18-stone wannabe Emma Chawner, who in 2007 was told by Cowell that she sang Celine Dion’s ”ËMy Heart Will Go On’ ”Ëlike a baby’ while wearing a ”Ëwedding dress’ handmade by her dad. In typical crass X Factor taste she was hoisted aloft on a sedan chair for the season finale – prompting even Sharon Osborne to cover her face in horror.
Reportedly head judge Gary Barlow is keen to champion more credible singers this season, saying: “’The TV companies are always going to push for the ridiculous acts to get through, but I’m hoping we can resist so many this year.”Â
With Louis Walsh still clinging onto his seat on the panel I fear he’ll have a tough job on his hands. After all it was the boyband impresario who famously poured Irish twins ”ËJedward’ into red latex suits for a butt-clenching rendition of Britney Spears’ ”ËOops I Did It Again’. Enough said.
I’m not saying that only the beautiful and the conventional should apply to The X Factor. Musical history is littered with a parade of outcasts and oddballs ”â everyone from Michael Jackson to Phil Spector. The difference is that they have the one thing that 99.99 per cent of The X Factor applicants lack ”â talent”Â¦ by the bucket-load.
For as long as Simon Cowell and ITV choose to broadcast footage of people without a drop for cheap laughs and valuable ratings figures I will refuse to tune in.