The X-Factor

Sunday, October 5, 2008 by

Any series that can boast “now with no Sharon Osbourne” must be on to a winner.

Yes X-Factor series (what is it now- four? Five?) is definitely feeling the benefit of the lack of “Mrs O”.  I for one won’t miss her cutting some shapes and pouting on the live shows, not to mention playing to the gallery like some Anglo-Transatlantic Margi Clarke. With those live editions round the corner, now seems like a good time to comment on yet another one of those series that, through sheer repetition, has fallen off the broadsheet agenda, while remaining resolutely ever present in the tabloids. 

So is anybody who loves telly still watching ITV1′s talent show beast?  I am, but I am beginning to suspect I might be alone.  For those of you who’ve jumped ship, I can tell you that you’re not missing anything.  I mean literally, you’re not missing anything – it’s like an identikit version of itself. 

Scott's in tears, but the swelling music means...

Scott's in tears, but the swelling music means...

..."You're through to the live show!"

..."You're through to the live show!"

So rigid now is the formula, that in this last whittling edition, you can actually tell who is going to be in and who is going out based on the incidental music (if a contestant walks in to face judgment to any track 30 seconds away from an ascendant key change then they’re through, otherwise they’re out).  Similarly, the knowledge they always leave the last two candidates vying for one place, allows you to pretty much work out the configuration of yes and no’s before they happen.

So if the format is turning against the programme through sheer repetition, how is the rest of it working?  Dannii Minogue is becoming increasingly superfluous, not helped by the obviously unfavourable editing, which excises her from many of the judges’ reaction shots.  Talking of editing, that much lampooned X-Factor style of sticking in any old reaction shot, regardless of continuity still prevails.  Indeed, this series has been so blatant, in one instance Dannii appeared to briefly change outfit mid-audition.  Such audacity is almost commendable.

New judge Cheryl Cole has actually worked very well, despite many people’s misgivings that she would be too street tough (in fact she is quite the opposite).  However, The X-Factor‘s main draw remains Simon Cowell.  Somehow there is just something wonderfully “in synch” about the man, even after all this time he has a great knack for verbalising what most viewers are thinking.

Less successful, and mysteriously so, is Dermot O’Leary.  As a slightly free-wheeling presenter he really is in his element, and brilliant at exuding empathy. But on this show, none of that is present and I’m not sure why.  Perhaps the production team just don’t have enough faith in him.  Whatever the reason, Dermot  is in danger of losing the last vestiges of what Simon likes to call the “likeability factor”.  Hopefully he will jump ship soon and find something that better suits his talents.

So all in all, The X-Factor  finds itself still outperforming (most) of the competition, but it is not the thing of pomp it used to be.  Perhaps it’s found its comfortable Saturday night groove now, and rather like – say – Stars in their Eyes – will continue to pump out watchable, but inessential telly for a few years to come.  Not a bad fate.


4 Responses to “The X-Factor”

  1. Terry Hayward on October 8th, 2008 5:12 pm

    You are not alone. I still watch The X Factor despite the show being a carbon copy of recent years. In fact part of the charm may come from the familiarity for viewers. In our house we boo or cheer whenever a well-worn cliche is trotted out (“you made the song your own” being a particular favourite), although we find that a couple of glasses of wine help with this audience participation.

    We also take great delight in guessing who is in and who is out depending on chord changes in the background music or the way the judges start to break the good or bad news to the contestants. Only last Sunday all judges were using the same approach. Those that were going to London for the live shows would be told “This was your final chance, I’m worried about whether you’ll be able to cope with the live shows, your audition was a disaster, but….I like you and you’re in my top three”. Cue joyful music and histrionics from the jubilant future chart topper. However if bad news was coming their way, it was a different story “I’ve liked you since the first audition, you have a good voice, you know I like you as a person, but…’ve not made it”. Cue sad music and more histrionics.

    It’s a winning formula that, at times, takes itself far too seriously but we’ll still be there come December cheering on the finallists, even if we don’t go and buy the (usually medicore) single afterwards.

  2. John Phillips on October 12th, 2008 12:13 am

    I’m actually slightly concerned that they’ve used up all their cliches too early this year. We’ve had a dead wife story, a dead mum story, tons of bullying stories, lots of “This is my last chance”, and everyone bursting into tears every five minutes. There’s only “judge walks out” and we’ll have the full set already. Once that happens, the lack of a Chico/Rhydian style nutter means there’ll be nothing left to watch.

    Main point of interest tonight: A year on from his win, Leon Jackson STILL looks into camera as if he’s got no idea what it is.

  3. Terry Hayward on October 14th, 2008 12:32 pm

    You’re dead right about Leon, he could do with a bit of media training as whenever he’s interviewed about anything he just looks to the floor and mumbles. His appearance on The Xtra Factor on Saturday had the effect of completely sucking the atmosphere out of the studio. Through a mist of red wine I sent a text to them with this observation but funnily enough it didn’t appear on screen.

  4. Lisa Mourton on December 14th, 2008 10:02 am

    We watched this years final on saturday 13 december 2008, as we watched right from the start.
    We be leave it must have been a fix this year, as JLS was alot better singers than alex.
    So JLS should have WON we have been voting for them every week, As they should have WON the X FACTOR .

    regards Lisa Mourton