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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
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
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
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

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick