The X-Factor, ITV1

by | Aug 18, 2007 | All, Reviews

The story of the first episode of X-Factor, but be warned not all of it is true. In some instances we have faked paragraphs consisting of absolute lies in order to give a natural flow to the story.

The High Waist of Human Waste Simon Cowell heralds the new series with a clarion call. “You have school kids literally against old age pensioners. You cannot get more diverse than that. That, to me, is a great competition.”

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. A great competition, really? It’s obvious that the 25 and over category is merely there for show, as it provides most of the foolish freaks in the early rounds while the winner no matter from what category will soon be moulded into a smooth sphere of banality. And as we watch the ‘diverse’ herd of people all doing that loathsome X-Factor ‘X’ with their arms as if fending off a lethal blow, we’re reminded that nuclear weapons can be used for altruistic purposes, too.

Dermot O’Leary then reminds us why they’ve all congregated in what is invariably the ugliest building in whatever city they’re in.

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. They are “all fighting for a £1m record contract” for an album that is as likely to see the cold light of day as Peter Sutcliffe.

Then the four judges line up on the balcony overlooking the gormless throng to absorb their mindless applause, with Cowell giving a Nero-esque thumbs up as if indicating that because of their reverence they won’t be thrown to the lions today.

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. We’re then reacquainted with Sharon Osbourne, “the first lady of rock”; a role she occupies with as much credibility as King Herod acting as a patron of the NSPCC.

Next up is Dannii Minogue who has “been performing since the age of seven”. Syphilis has been cured quicker. And she knows “what it takes to be a success in this industry”, while Chairman Mao could boast of similar expertise in the business of exterminating intellectuals but that doesn’t mean we necessarily respect him for it.

And together with new judge Brian Friedman, they resemble twin monoliths of vacuity wedged into their seats like cheap gravestones. He appears as a gibbering, frigid grin entrapped and abandoned in a block of otherwise featureless permafrost, while she looks like a slab of industrial plastic with sunburn.

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. Brian trilled: “I made my reputation working with Britney Spears, Usher and artists of that calibre.” Dennis Nilsen made his reputation working with a number of sawing implements and generous plumbing. We’d know who we’d rather invite to our wedding – we’d even lay out some bin bags.

The first contestant of the new series was 55-year-old cleaner Susan and, as none of her children had died of cancer (or at least not that we privy to know), she was evidently cannon fodder for the judges to mock.

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. Brian laughs at Susan (“I wanted to be a singer ever since I was a child”), Simon smiles, Dannii bursts into peals of mirth. Scum, all of them. If they fell into a sewer you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from the rats except that as even fleas have some maternal instinct they wouldn’t choose to lay their eggs on such sulphurous blobs of malice.

And what of Dermot O’Leary? Well, this may seem harsh but he has been indoctrinated wholesale into the X-Factor mentality to the point where his treason is in danger of making him the new Ben Elton. “The hunt continues with very little hope!” he bemoaned, followed by a sequence of disappointed contestants who have been all squashed together into a chain of failure no matter if they sang at 9am or 8pm. “Could X-Factor 4 be over before it’s even begun?” he mused, knowing full well that the next sequence after the break would be a miraculous parade of people (“And back at the auditions, it seems everyone’s dreams are coming true”) of the breed Cowell often will claim “we could sell a lot of records with you” before spitting them out of his alabaster teeth with a velocity that makes Lucifer’s fall seem like stroll in the country.

And how does the wit of the new judges measure up? Brian is a devout believer in the typical talent show judge. “I’m going to tell you the truth,” he stated, with about as much cognizance of the word ‘truth’ as we have of the afterlife, before following it up with that vile staccato phraseology befuddled-headed dolts use that they think makes them seem caustic and current, “you… can’t… sing.”

While Dannii’s judgement is crippled by the musical skeletons in her cupboard. “I loved that song and you murdered it,” she wailed, which is impudent considering she was once the pillaging Genghis Khan of the pop charts (whereas thankfully she is now an impotent Margaret Thatcher-type figure).

Still, even their banalities are more acute than Cowell who churned out his own sterile clichés once more. An over-excited group were, if he was “being honest”, “the worst group I have ever heard in my life”; a remark he hands out indiscriminately like dishevelled students shoving flyers for a new pub/club into the hands of passing pedestrians.

W4, a “modern day version of the Spice Girls”, were put through but as one of them is taller than the others for them to go any further she will have to be decapitated. “Not original at all,” Cowell remarked. We’re surprised he didn’t sign them up on the spot.

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. Brother/sister duo Same Difference virtually pledged to perform every act short of carnal favours if they were put through. They were. However, the next time we’ll see them is when they shuffle nervously on stage at ‘boot camp’, and they’re perky little faces will drop to despair when they are told they’re out and the camera rushes ungraciously to zoom in on their tears.

The “whole new generation” of 14 and 15-year-olds were unveiled next. Their inclusion was justified by Cowell’s: “I kept getting 14 and 15-year-olds asking me, ‘why can’t I enter the show?’”

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. Are we expected to believe that Cowell actually listens to people who don’t have dollar bills for kidneys? What next? Twelve-year-old boys threatening to slash their wrists with their first shaving blade? Five-year-olds who throw their toys out of the pram as they can’t enter? Where will it end? Where will it end? With grown men clambering on the desks and ejaculating in front of the judges which will simultaneously enhance the “record X-Factor crowds” to a volume of millions and cause dannii Minogue to enviously eye their artistic aptitude? And while the sperm flaps senselessly about like fish slapped onto a soaking trawler deck they at least have the potential for a longer career in the music ‘business’ than Shayne Ward.

“The first 14-year-old to face the judges is Emily from London.” What stereotyped sound through yonder TV speaker breaks? Is it the plinky-plonky piano of sickening sentimentality that acts as both a precursor to some overcome tragedy and will crescendo into an equally trite boy band atrocity when she emerges from the room triumphant? Of course it is. Emily does have talent, but it’s her burst appendix that is the main focus of her spot.

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. After putting Emily through Cowell sneered: “And they said it shouldn’t be 14? Right?” Of course, Cowell is right as we’re sure Emily was just the tip of the iceberg the outstanding exemplar that saw every single 14 and 15-year-old who entered be ushered into the friendly glow of the judging panel to be praised to the heavens before rushing out to tearfully embrace their waiting family. We’re sure that no 14-year-old was crushed by the rejection, that none spent the next week weeping in their bedroom speared by that unique adolescent distress where everything matters ten times as much as when you’re an adult.

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. The episode over Brian’s move to ‘creative director’ (which was as much a come down as the captain of the QE2 being demoted to remove barnacles a rotting fishing vessel off Portland Bill with his teeth) was handled with the usual mendacity. Brian’s weak performances were attributed to his despair at the “British talent” not inspiring him enough to work effectively as a judge rather than him being rubbish.

At about a quarter past eight on Saturday 18th of August, the word ‘honest’ announced its retirement from the English language after Louis Walsh’s disingenuous confession that “If I’m honest, I’m feeling a little nervous.” Why didn’t he just say, “I’m feeling a little nervous”? This would have been adequate. He can’t have prefixed his “nervousness” because nobody in the country believes a word this man with a vegetatious face children might find on their schooldinner plates says, is it?

And speaking of school dinners, Jools, a 32-year-old school dinner lady, was the subject of a vignette of artifice that X-Factor thrives on. Being of moderate singing ability she enabled Simon to indulge his new favourite practice of mocking contestants only just good enough to go through with his clueless barbs being soothed when he grudgingly puts them through – “You walk in, and I’m not being rude here, like a loser. You sing like a whipped dog, but there’s something likeable about you” – as though he were a medieval witchfinder who has just drowned a dubious suspect before examining the corpse and complimenting “Mmm, but you have nice hair.”

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. As Jools was a school dinner lady this also meant that cameras could capture the moment she returned to tell the expectant pupils how she got on. As if a TV company would go to all the trouble of setting up their cameras to callously capture a hall full of miserable children; especially as you can rely on one or two of them to serve up the obligatory tear shot – the Holy Grail of all cravenly substandard TV this decade.

Everyone knows the drill on X-Factor. Of the many thousands who turn up hoping to realise their yearnings for fame and fortune, only the good, the bad and the ugly ever make it through the hallowed temple of the judges. The last contestant was 17-year-old Zoë, who was coaxed into boasting about her talents to firstly make her plummet back to Earth that much more ‘delicious’ for the sadistic viewer, and to also give the judges carte blanche to vilify her as if she were a war criminal.

Once in the judging room, the panel (who evidently were aware Zoë was a high confidence/ low talent loose cannon) cynically extorted a confession from her in which she foolishly exaggerated her own abilities giving her just enough rope to hang herself. Louis: “Why are you here?” Zoë: “To win X-Factor.” Louis: “Do you think you’re good enough? Zoë: “Yeah!” Cowell: “I could be as successful as Christina Aguilera!” And there’s the bullseye the panel were looking for so they can guiltlessly unleash their full venom upon her.

ALERT! ALERT! Fake paragraph. As Zoë left the room weeping, the panel appeared really pleased that they had caused a 17-year-old girl such emotional trauma. Worst of all was Sharon Osbourne who exclaimed: “Her parents! What have they done to her?” She seemed oblivious to the fact that her kids at about the same age were far more odious and Kelly’s records were abysmal, marketed on her slobbering connections rather than any discernible talent. Sooner or later one of these people will attempt suicide, but hey what does that matter? Next year, the X-Factor can have “It’s been a difficult year for Annabel/ Charity/ Simon/ Agamemnon. Last year they endured difficult times and tried to take their own life. But as their stomach was pumped free of poison they kept themselves going with the though of auditioning for the X-Factor again.”

But of course, X-Factor must have a happy ending as it’s all part of the ‘story’. And this episode’s last entrant only entered the contest after she found the entry form in the belongings of her dead father. Of course, the panel knew this as they asked her why she applied. All of which begs the question: is everyone with a sob story blessed with a singing voice? Or do any other people who have suffered hardship in the recent past taken quietly outside and shot?

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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