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'I'm A Celebrity' Has the X Factor, But Time for 'X Factor' to Get Out of Here!

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This week's nonsense on X Factor is only the latest evidence that this show has X-pired its sell-by date. Meanwhile, I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! goes from strength to strength. What does this tell us about what viewers want?

Crowds booed and Twitterers tweeted in disgust as the two performers with any vestige of ability were forced into the bottom two, but the biggest surprise was their surprise. X Factor has never been about making music, it's about making money.

Tulisa and Louis' 'mutual dislike', the source reports about backstage backstabbing, Gary's disgust, the ongoing battles for alpha-female supremacy... can we not smell the cunning hand of a busy publicist at work? In his biography of Simon Cowell, Tom Bower spelt out, for those who hadn't guessed, how these stories are placed in the press during the week to spice up curiosity and ratings in time for the weekend.

From its inception, X Factor was never about music. Simon Cowell was desperate to get away from the grip of Pop Idol or, more accurately, his rival Simon Fuller, so he had to come up with a sufficiently different format. It wasn't to ensure better talent emerged, it was to escape a lawsuit. Which he did. And it was great. Huge salute.

Arthur Schopenhauer once told us that while the proof of talent was to land the target where no one else could hit, genius involved hitting a mark no one else could see. And the charismatic toilet brush has done just that, turned musical snobbery on its head, made TV a primary vessel for shifting records, turned dancing dogs into stars and filled his coffers in the process.

But now it's time for him to sail away on his yacht. What he sowed, he must reap and, just as he has never pretended to be invested in his artists' development, so we're no longer interested in his shows. They're bubble gum pop and the bubble has popped. Simon Cowell, more than anyone, would understand and appreciate the irony.

Meanwhile, over in the jungle, the antics of a bunch of 'celebs' are drawing in upwards of ten million viewers, even on a school nightly basis. Why does a bunch of people stuck together with no makeup and little food inspire such fascination?

The celebrity angle is obviously key. Because we're sold such a load of airbrushed gloss the rest of the time, it's great fun to see them behind the curtain - pot bellies, big legs, eye-bags and all. They are just like us in their mottled skins, and we like them so much more for it.

Obviously, our huge delight is reserved for when the ones who rely most on their physical attributes (exhibit A - Helen Flanagan) find that, sans mascara, they are ill-equipped for jungle life, and all the shrieks that follow.

Our greatest glee comes when these more theatrical, diva-esque types try to bring their sense of privilege into the camp, and get short shrift from the others. Because, from the dawn of time, we've always loved a good ruck - one that hasn't come from a publicist's pen, but from the simple social disaster of too much time spent in the same limited company. When Limahl told Helen, "You're always saying 'ridiculous', and you don't even mean 'ridiculous'", it could have been two people stuck together on the warehouse floor, one with an annoying whistle. Murders have been committed for less, and it's something we can all relate to.

Simon Cowell in the jungle - now that would make good television...

The underlying subtext of the whole show remains robust - helped along by Ant and Dec conspiring very much with the viewer against the 'celebs' (even though this cheeky pair's fortunes dwarf most of the rest combined) - that these celebs in all their normality, fragility and everyday nonsense will be revealed, and nowhere more so than in the torture chambers of the bush tucker trials.

Because critters can't be scripted. Termites don't know the difference between a Corrie star and a mere boxing champion - they bite and poke democratically. Animals and nature are God's great levellers, and in this age of celebrity worship and arbitrary adulation, a show like this isn't just a guilty pleasure, it's actually a necessity to remind us that, however many free shampoos and nightclub invites some privileged people receive, in the final reckoning, everyone has to be able to heat a bowl of beans, cope with a twig in their hair and ultimately sleep with the light off.

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