WITHOUT wanting to turn this week’s column into a ranty list of personal hates about The X Factor, let me begin with a disclaimer.

There’s a slight chance that this week’s column could turn into a ranty list of personal hates about The X Factor.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

But it seems only fitting that I begin with the biggest talking point of the series so far – Rylangate.

I refer, if you’re a wiser person than me and don’t watch the show, to cries of “fix!” by many viewers when an executive producer shuffled up on his bumto Louis Walsh and whispered into his ear during the sing-off between bottom two Carolynne Poole, who can sing, and all-round irritant Rylan Clark, who can’t.

Louis huffed and puffed and blew Carolynne’s chances, after much self-searching or trying to remember what he’d been told to do moments earlier.

ITV denies the claims but, frankly, if you believe this programme isn’t fixed, orchestrated or carefully choreographed in virtually every respect then brace yourself, because I’ve also got some really bad news for you concerning Father Christmas.

The X Factor is the most cynical beast on television, not least with how it treats its audience.

This should not come as brand new information. But it’s made all the worse this year with the choice of novelty act, Rylan, who is trampling all over the glorious memory of Wagner and Chico before him.

He’s an attention-hungry reality TV floozy who’s only here because he narrowly missed out on winning Sky Living’s modelling talent contest Signed By Katie Price.

But, as the first public vote of the live shows demonstrated, the public aren’t interested in keeping him in.

You see, unlike Wagner and even Jedward, this time we’re not in on the joke. We’re the butt of it.

And so it’s no surprise that Strictly Come Dancing, the perennial Saturday night bridesmaid, has leapt ahead in the ratings.

Rylan is only the most visible part of the iceberg. So much else is wrong in this series, including the judges. Tulisa is not disguising the fact that she is mind-numbingly bored already and is spouting an answerphone of hackneyed X Factor one-liners.

Employment tribunal chairman Gary Barlow is still labouring under the false impression that they’re searching for a global superstar.

Louis Walsh has lost whatever bottle he once had and told winner- in-waiting Ella Henderson that, during Lovin’ You, she: “Hit the big high Mariah Carey note,” when she’d actually hit the big high Minnie Riperton note.

The fact that Nicole Scherzinger, who last Saturday was gargling a pint of bitter to wash down some pork scratchings with a face that looked like she’d just walked in on Lewis Hamilton in a compromising position with Jenson Button, has assumed the mantle of Best Judge should tell you everything about the other three.

The contestants are lamer than ever and they might as well just skip straight to the final between James Arthur and Ella.

Last week, I said there would be no chance this show would pay Lucy Spraggan’s recently deceased grandmother the ultimate show of respect by not mentioning her death. I hate being right sometimes.

In fact, everything’s annoying.

Rylan, Jahmene’s nervous giggle, Gary Barlow’s cross face, Louis trying to be cool, District 3’s affected American accent from a part of the US unknown to mankind, 1980s throwbacks MK1 being told: “You’re current,” all the time, and rottweiler interrogator Dermot ‘buddy’ O’Leary somehow getting each and every Sunday-night guest performer to confess that they do indeed have a new album out/are on tour soon.

Still, at least this week’s column didn’t turn into a ranty list of personal hates about The X Factor.

Spuduhate awards

● Johnny Ball being kicked out of Strictly before Aliona Vilani (you’re my favourite) could return from injury. Thanks a bunch, everyone.

● ITV1’s This Morning turning into a daily carnival of Jimmy Savile grave-stamping.

● Watchdog wasting everyone’s time telling Rolling Stones fans that tickets to their concerts are a bit on the pricey side.

● ITV2 “supernatural comedy drama” (give me strength) Switch. Switch off.

Spudulike awards

● Strictly Come Dancing, notably Michael Vaughan’s have-a-go-hero jive.

● The Thick Of It.

● Channel 4’s Sing For Your Life.

● The second episode of Homeland, which was so much more gripping than the excellent but slow-burning opener.

● Total Wipeout’s best ever, most nail-biting Wipeout Zone between Riccardo the Italiano, Leo the Leader and all-time-record-equalling Non-Toff William who broke Richard Hammond’s “mythical one-minute barrier”.

● Adrian Chiles and co performing miracles with 1hr 40min of entertaining flannel during the monsoon at ITV1’s Poland v England World Cup Qualifier, so much better than the rescheduled match the next day or Wales’ result in Croatia.

● The high-octane drama of three men each baking 25 pink fondant fancies in the Great British Bake Off final (and to think, some people thought the only macho TV viewing on Tuesday evening would be the football. Pah!)

● Emmerdale Live, an ambitious way to mark the soap’s 40th anniversary, which, apart from one minor fluffed line by Betty, Cameron’s blank digital watch, and a wedding party going into church in the middle of the day and emerging in black of night, had nobody “doing a Scott Maslen” and was let down massively in only one respect. It’s Emmerdale.