Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the TV, two beasts of the box re­turn

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK -

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.


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