TIM FANNING MY VIEW
Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the TV, two beasts of the box return
Expect a collective groan around the country this Saturday, with the return of both the Premier League and The X Factor. Seeing these perennials pop up in the schedules is a bit like that sick feeling you used to get at the end of August when those Back to School ads started appearing on the telly.
There’s been little respite for those poor souls who detest sport. First Euro 2012, then Wimbledon, then the Olympics, it’s been a tedious summer from beginning to end. As for The X Factor, well, at least those of us who would rather subject ourselves to an omnibus of Oireachtas Report than endure the antics of endless out-of-tune, overconfident wannabes can console ourselves in the knowledge that it will all be over by Christmas.
In fact, both the Premier League and The X Factor share certain similarities. There’s far too much hype, not enough talent and most of the stars of the show are overpaid. That’s not forgetting the tantrums, the dodgy haircuts, the revealing outfits and the formulaic plots.
This year is a big one for Simon Cowell. Nine years in, and his X Factor juggernaut is showing signs of running out of steam. Love him or hate him, Cowell was sorely missed on the British version of the show last year. And his replacement, Gary Barlow, just doesn’t have the same presence. Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger has been brought in to replace Kelly Rowland on the judging panel (see page 8). She’ll add glamour, but perhaps not enough oomph to really shake things up. What The X Factor needs more than anything else is some contestants with star quality. Former winners Alexandra Burke and Leona Lewis have both achieved considerable success. But after their fifteen minutes of fame, most of the victors are consigned to the footnotes of pop history.
As for the football, it remains to be seen whether this is the year the bubble will burst, which it most certainly will at some stage. There have already been some casualties at the lower end of the Premier League and in Scotland, where Rangers – one of the giants of the game – are now plying their trade in the bottom division of the league after getting into trouble with HM Revenue, much to the delight of Celtic fans around the country.
But for millions of viewers, the football and The X Factor provide a welcome lift amid all the doom and gloom. And you can be sure that even the naysayers who hate Simon Cowell and his ilk will be casting the odd glance over The X Factor, just to remind themselves of how bad it is, of course.