COUCH POTATO: It’s X Factor make your mind up time...
If television shows were people, it wouldn’t take the world’s foremost psychiatrist to diagnose the mental ill-health of ITV’s long-suffering karaoke contest.
For the last decade it’s been afflicted by an acute case of schizophrenia that has only deepened with time and taken countless victims.
The latest, from The X Factor’s opening weekend, was Fil “with an F” Henley who swaggered into the audition room with all the rock-star presence of Ronnie Corbett and made a complete illock-with-a-P of himself.
So naturally, after disagreeing with their own decision, the judges invited him to make an even bigger one before 4,000 people at Wembley Arena, with the advice to unleash the rocker within him and vandalise the place.
If you witnessed the 90 seconds of self-humiliation that followed on Sunday night, you’ll be aware that the very same panel that gave him the rope with which to hang himself immediately washed their hands of all responsibility: “You should do it at home.”
It was one of the most staggering and blatant displays of cynical manipulation I’ve ever witnessed on this show.
The real crime, though, was that it undid Saturday night’s opener, which was the best start to a series since Simon Cowell foolishly axed the brilliant room auditions.
Their return, alas without Big Tony the bouncer, heralded a rare handful of moments to treasure.
J Star Valentine performed “my own take on Alexandra Burke’s Hallelujah”, which turned out to be his own take on The Cowardly Lion’s “I-I-I-I-I-I, am the k-i-i-i-i-i-ng, of the fore-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-st!” from The Wizard of Oz.
I’ll miss him, as I will also computer programmer James Nakasan who reckoned he was: “006, licence to kill with a song,” (he wasn’t joking, it was a massacre), along with nose-holding, throat-tapping Mull of Kintyre bagpipe-channelling Frank Justmann.
None of these would have worked in the auditorium auditions which the producers are obsessed with but have always been, for my money, an error of judgement.
And if you want evidence of that, look no further than the complete waste of an hour on Sunday night, phase two of the new double auditions, in the packed arena.
We’d seen all the contestants 24 hours earlier and now we’d see them again, only minus the comedy turns.
The judges were all frantically justifying it, of course, Nicole “sing your heart out” Scherzinger more than anyone: “This part of the audition process is so important – to see who really comes to life on stage.”
Even if there was a point to the new format, both Louis Walsh and Scherzinger have missed it, having given a “yes” to two inferior acts on Sunday based on their audition-room performances alone.
But effectively nothing has changed. It’s still the same old X Factor.
Yes, Sharon Osbourne has returned but it’s an uninspiring move that serves only to highlight how weak the show’s become since she left.
Louis Walsh dared to proclaim: “Sharon’s so unpredictable. You never know what she’s going to say.”
She’s going to say: “Fabulous,” Louis, and you know it.
Gary Barlow is on his high horse talking nonsense.
He declared: “You get no second chance,” at the second-chance arena try-outs, on the second episode.
Somebody has clearly had a word with the judges and slapped a ban on anyone giving more than 100 per cent yes, a cosmetic improvement.
But the deep-rooted irritations remain – the acoustic guitar buskers, the panel splitting up a duo, the torrent of dead dads and sob stories, and the cynicism.
In fact all my hopes are now pinned on one person.
So, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Strictly Come Dancing’s Mark Benton to the floor.
Saturday night needs you.
C4’s gritty Top Boy.
Nat Geo’s 9/11: Ten Years Later and C4’s 9/11: 102 Minutes That Changed America repeats.
Corrie’s David “Roy Cropper” Neilson’s touching performance on learning Hayley’s inoperable tumour news.
Sky Sports’ Jim White and Natalie Sawyer on Transfer Deadline Day, when, as White put it: “Football goes berserk and we go berserk with it.”
The three excruciating seconds it took Darcy Bussell to answer The One Show Matt Baker’s question: “Is this the best Strictly line-up ever?” (“Yes,” she lied.)
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s street dance, of sorts, on Strictly rip-off Stepping Out putting the “hip op” into “hip-hop”.
And maths whizz Ian Wright on Football Focus: “If you look at the statistics, when Suarez isn’t playing then Liverpool win 72 per cent of the games, and only 42 per cent when he’s playing.”
That’s Ian Wright. Giving 114 per cent.
That Puppet Game Show writing its own death warrant by failing to come up with more than six different rounds.
ITV’s insult to David Frost, Through The Keyhole, with the network’s inexplicable infatuation Keith Lemon.
Dragons’ Den awarding Captain Ego, Peter Jones, a loving compilation of his lame one-liners.
BBC1’s half-assed Transfer Deadline Day coverage.
Maladjusted, objectionable, self-pitying, socially challenged, Billy no mates Celebrity Big Brother housemate Lauren Harries, a genetic mutation between Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Blofeld’s cat.
And ITV’s Stepping Out stealing Strictly’s musical director, So You Think You Can Dance’s choreographer, Dancing On Ice’s acerbic judge and the host of Sky1’s Got To Dance.
Because you can’t beat originality, can you?
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