X Factor, ITV, review: Simon Cowell bans sob stories but Cheryl Cole can’t stop crying

The ITV juggernaut has come a way in the decade it’s been on air

The X Factor was back on Saturday night and auditions opened with a cast of characters you may find familiar.

Carol, 63, had forgotten her dentures, but remembered her Axel Rose wig, a lovelorn teenager serenaded Cheryl with Shayne Ward’s "That’s My Goal’"and a comedy foreigner mistakenly thought herself equal to a Mariah Carey octave.

“It was like you’d swallowed a load of people and they were all screaming at the same time” said Simon. He’s used that line before. 

The X Factor is nominally a talent show, but along with the good, there’s always been a generous helping of the bad and the ugly. You could condemn this as exploiting the vulnerable and mocking the mentally ill, or you could enjoy it as a good-natured celebration of British eccentricity featuring ordinary people who are in on the joke. I’m inching away from the former and towards the latter. That’s my journey and they love a journey on The X Factor.

 

It’s helps that this ITV juggernaut has also come a way in the decade it’s been on air. Previous series have sometimes been dull or mawkish, but the eleventh feels like a more evolved entertainment product, in which the "bad" and the "ugly" are no longer synonymous.

Take Italian guy Andrea, who presented new judge Mel B with a plastic figurine of herself, spoke of his love of pugs in a Borat accent (“Yeeeees, like pugs, definitely!”), then proceeded to stun with a soulful rendition of Motown classic "Who’s Loving You".

Better still was Londoner Shayden. Good-looking, fashionable and confidently presenting his own composition, the judges were wowed by Shayden before he’d sung a single note. Then he did sing and it was dreadful. Let that be a lesson to us all.

Angelina Robinson (in red) and her Mum prepare for their audition Angelina Robinson (in red) and her Mum prepare for their audition Forget all the wet singer-songwriters that The X Factor has previously feted in an attempt to be authentically "about the music". This show is best when it embraces pop in all its plastic-y perfection. So it’s good news that the teeny-bopper groups appear to be on form this year.

There was a so-irritating-it’s-intriguing sister act and a girl-group who boasted of rehearsing their harmonies in the chicken shop, but it was an energetic, mixed gender four-piece who impressed most. They also inspired Simon’s bitchiest bon mot of the evening: “I actually would like to find another Steps... but just with better people in it.”

It’s good to have SiCo back, isn’t it? His earlier edict that sob stories are “over” had also been observed, but in a way that still allowed fellow returnee Cheryl to do what she does best - prettily cried tears of well coiffed compassion. And after former contestant Amy sang her heart out, Cheryl wasn’t the only one sniffling.

New addition Mel B made for a hilariously plain-speaking foil to this, a sort of Bet Lynch to Cheryl’s Raquel Watts, and stalwart Louis brought along his sense of Puckish mischief. Whatever ‘it’ is, these four have got it. The "x factor", perhaps?

Read more: Tulisa returns as a guest judge, Louis Walsh confirms
Simon Cowell on Cheryl’s US X Factor sacking
Strictly Come Dancing launch date to clash with X Factor
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
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.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam