Keep failing your driving test? Try The X Factor contestant method. Show up to the test with your entire family, all of whom are crying. Inform the examiner that your nan died recently and that you’re dedicating this 45-minute drive to her. Should you drive into a parked car at any point during the test, fear not. Simply burst into tears and explain that this would’ve meant so much to your nan and you don’t want to let her down. If you are good-looking enough, and if the examiner thinks you gave it 110 per cent, you should get four “yes”s and a pass. Thank the examiner and say that you won’t let him down.
Thus begins another series of X Factor, which has been confusing sob stories with singing talent for 13 series. This series goes back to basics. Wisely so. The big stadium auditions are gone, along with the shrill duo of Olly Murs and Caroline Flack. Welcome back Dermot O’Leary, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne.
The series has a more muted, maybe humble feeling than the last, which may be due to its falling ratings or even be down to the troubled private life of poor Sharon, who sometimes looks preoccupied by the fate of her marriage to Ozzy. He’s a sex addict, apparently, which fair curdles the stomach.
Either way, the show works better. Some of the contestants in Series 13 are actually worth rooting for. Look out for a Liverpool couple who can’t stop eating and who I expected to sing like a couple of cats stuck in a washing machine. The woman turned out to be OK; the man was fantastic. Simon Cowell tried to split them up into solo acts and they said no. Fame is nice but love is more important – and the way that Simon replied “I thought you’d say that” suggested a man who’s learnt a thing or two since he started this show.
In the interminable war between Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor, I’ll always choose the latter. It’s more proletarian. The emotions are manipulated by producers, sure, but the people being manipulated are real. So, lest we forget, are the judges.
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