Strictly speaking, who's got the X Factor?

The two big Saturday TV hits hold their finals tonight. Oliver Duff wonders who will win: BBC or ITV?


X Factor, ITV1, 6.40

A TV talent show featuring the music mogul Simon Cowell? Hmm, that sounds familiar.

Basically it's Cowell's first show, Pop Idol, with categories for groups and - gasp - singers over 25 thrown in. Almost 75,000 people rocked up to audition for this, the second series, with the winner decided today. Running for a mammoth 19 weeks, much of the show's initial appeal relies on tone-deaf show-offs making fools of themselves while the judges pull faces.

What's in it for the contestants?

A £1m recording contract, the patronage of one of three pop "svengalis" (Cowell, Louis Walsh or Sharon Osbourne) and maximum exposure in the tabloids.

Any X-rated behaviour?

Rumours of off-screen romps can't get past the libel lawyers, but are fuelled by the voracious self-publicity act that is Chico Slimani, an ex-stripper who got to the final five and who may yet top the charts with "It's Chico Time". The mother of the favourite, 21-year-old Shayne Ward, was arrested on suspicion of assault in Manchester on Wednesday evening.

What draws the 10.5 million viewers to this festival of crassness every week?

Once the cringeworthy auditions were out of the way, the main drama had to be injected by producers in the form of "feuding" judges. Sharon threw water over Louis, Simon threw lame barbs at Louis, and Louis threw his toys out of the pram and walked from the show. He came back next weekend, though.

And the main man is ...?

Cowell, he of the stinging one-liners and high-waisted trousers. Sharon Osbourne gamely makes a grab for attention too, displaying toecurling lust for her favourite, Shayne Ward.

Who will win?

Clever money is on ex-shoe shop assistant Shayne Ward to scoop the pop booty, although the truly awful plumber-electrician duo Journey South are racing up on the outside. The bookies have "not seen a peanut" on former Enfield bin man Andy Abraham, who beat the odds to get this far.

Highlight

You're spoilt for choice, thanks to the early auditions. Robert King's screaming delivery of Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" will be replayed in Cowell's nightmares for years yet.

Strictly Come Dancing, BBC1, 6.30

Dust off those sequins and slap on the fake tan. What's this all about?

A bevy of newsreaders, former athletes and snooker players are put through their paces by professional dancers, as four judges criticise their performances. Now in its third series, this is wholesome family entertainment - think grandad thrown under the studio lights and asked to dance the funky chicken. The armchair audience have the final say on which couple to boot off each week, often choosing , inexplicably to save the worst dancers (ie the underdog).

What's in it for the "celebs"?

The exhilaration of being paid to tango while grabbing primetime exposure for flagging careers. And love, sweet love, of course.

Blimey! So it really does take two to ...

Yup. Newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky and Kiwi dancer Brendan Cole "stepped out" during the first series, which they won. Cole dumped his fiancée, fellow dancer Camilla Dallerup - but she got her own back in this third series by romancing Ready Steady Cook chef James Martin. "You can't beat the feeling of two bodies moving as one," she said. Phew.

Apart from the steamy studio sessions, what makes more than nine million Britons reach for the remote?

The pleasure of Strictly relies heavily on the charm of seeing the celebrities transformed into unlikely twinkle-toes. Think of chunky England fast bowler Darren Gough waltzing like a dream, or hurdler Colin Jackson's fancy footwork in the foxtrot. Veteran Bruce Forsyth, clearly revelling in his television "comeback", is a huge draw, too.

And the main man is...

Judge Craig Revel Horwood, the tap-dancing man's Simon Cowell. The Australian choreographer sports a pin-striped jacket and flared collar rather than spray-on jeans and an enormous chest beard, but his pained expressions and knifing comments could burst foot blisters at a half-dozen paces.

Who will win the, erm, trophy?

The bookies have got Colin Jackson at 4/6, with Darren Gough at 9/4 and Zoe Ball at 4/1.

Highlight

"It was Godzilla and the praying mantis": judge Bruno Tonioli's verdict on BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull's rumba.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Business Development Manager

£25000 - £27000 per annum + Bonus: Sauce Recruitment: Within your role as Busi...

IT Graduate

£15 - 20k: Guru Careers: We are looking for an eager IT Graduate / Technology ...

Ad Director / Sales Director

£55 - 65k + 25% Y1 OTE + Fantastic Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an e...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?