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 current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition