First night: The X factor; The Mayfair Hotel, London - Sharon Osbourne returns to add grit to Cowell-free show

3.00

 

When Peter Fincham, ITV’s director of television, unveiled the 10th series of The X Factor in a Mayfair hotel, he felt confident enough to take a swipe at the strike rate of its BBC1 rival, The Voice. “No other singing talent show on UK television has launched so many stars – or any stars,” he crowed.

The broadcaster’s biggest cash cow will return with a montage of One Direction, the global phenomenon, who were stitched together under Simon Cowell’s tutelage and stand as a rebuke to those who cite the fate of Matt Cardle, the 2010 series winner who was quietly dropped by his record company last year.

But even Mr Fincham knows that The X Factor, which returns on Saturday night, has peaked. Ratings for last year’s final, won by James Arthur, were the lowest for a series conclusion, since 2006. The numbers have fallen since Cowell departed the judging panel to devote his attentions to the US version.

This advance screening showed that the 2013 model has  a lot in common with those artists who, having exhausted their fanbase’s patience with ill-advised experimental albums, announce a “back to basics” return to the sounds and style that originally made them famous.

So original judge Sharon Osbourne makes a majestic re-entrance, after six years away, to replace Tulisa Contostavlos, hired to bring some “edge” and “urban appeal”, but who turned out to be a little too edgy and urban for the show’s all-ages audience. The hopefuls once again deliver their first audition in a closed room, creating a more intimate rapport with the judging panel, instead of being thrust straight in front of a baying mob at Wembley Arena.

Osbourne is the undisputed star of the show, delivering imperious put-downs in her role as pop’s dowager countess. “You’re too clean, there’s no edge,” she tells one milquetoast rocker. Invited to take assist in one singer’s act, she replies: “We’re miserable and we ain’t doing that shit.”

Asked about the X Factor graduates whose dream of stardom ends with a P45 after one flop album, Mrs Osbourne said: “Welcome to the music industry”.

Louis Walsh and Gary Barlow, both expected to quit after this series, and Nicole Scherzinger make up the still Cowell-free panel. The talent show “storylines” are rolled out. Episode one features the “SuBo moment” when Sam Bailey, a 36-year-old prison officer steps in front of the judges and unleashes a belting voice which would have given Janis Joplin a run for her money.

This year the producers have dropped the Jeremy Kyle-escapees who threaten the judges with violence and, it appears, those deluded entrants whose erratic behaviour has led to claims that the series exploits contestants with mental difficulties.

There is no needle between the judges who don’t disguise the fact that they actually like each other on this kinder, gentler X Factor.

But the Cowell-shaped hole at the heart of the series was made apparent when the man himself made a surprise appearance at the press launch to announce that, in advance of the birth of his first child, he remains “a very proud daddy” of his earlier creation.

The entrepreneur thanked the assembled media for making him “loads of money” and said that it would have been “so easy after ten years to get lazy and make the same show over again”.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
TVDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
Arts and Entertainment
Laugh a minute: Steph Parker with Nigel Farage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Comic Ivor Dembina has staged his ‘Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show’ for the past 20 years; the JNF UK charity is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories
comedy

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?