The X-Factor is back

There are few things British people love more than bad television, and The X-Factor is up there with the best of it. From stripping grannies and manic twins, to crooning teens and tears, this year’s series kicked off in crushingly, painfully predictable style.

There’s a ‘Nobody-Mention-Gary-Barlow’ policy, as a back-to-basics re-launch sees Mel B, Louis Walsh, Cheryl Cole’s Hair and a Madam Tussaud’s waxwork figure of Simon Cowell man the judging pane. They dish out flappy hands, rolling eyes and so-called ‘banter’.

Every element you’ve come to expect is present and correct. Dermot O’Leary’s bulge is back as he bounces around at the door, head flopping around like a bean-bag on a stick with an arm wrapped around every dewy-eyed mother. He squeezes out every last drop of pride in a choke-hold until they can barely crawl out of the venue.

The centrepiece for this week’s instalment comes in the form of 25 year old Amy, the obligatory sob-story who happens to be the only auditionee with any semblance of control over her voice. Meanwhile an astonishingly tone-deaf ex-navy dad gave us the prime parody moment of the night, though, as every wildly painful yelp bought the panel to a bizarre frenzy of emotion. ‘That’, said the Simon Mannequin, ‘is how you do it.’

An army of horrors followed but, above all, this is a show about the judges, and at no point are we led to believe that the entrants are anything other than the superfluous canon-fodder for the glossy panel of po-faced celebrity overlords. If you thought it was a long slog to Christmas, it just got longer.

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It was all sort of brilliant, though.

X-Factor: 2/5

Shock Factor: 0/5

Cheryl Cole’s Hair Factor: 4/5