It’s nearly that time of year again, with another series of ‘The X Factor’ just around the corner.
It will be the 14th outing for the ITV talent show, and Simon Cowell is desperate for the series to be a success, following a lacklustre few years that have seen ratings slump.
As a result, he’s planning a number of changes for 2017 (although when isn’t Simon Cowell changing something?), and if you’re failing to keep up with all the speculation that’s been in the press over the last few weeks, here’s our handy guide to the new series...
When does it start?
No official word from ITV as yet, but ‘The X Factor’ has begun on the last weekend of August since 2013, so it’s probably safe to assume there will be a double bill of brand new episodes on the weekend of 26/27 August, which sounds like a lovely start to the Bank Holiday.
Who is hosting?
Dermot O’Leary is back at the helm of good ship ‘X Factor’, after making his return last year, following a brief series hiatus.
Who are the judges?
This year marks the first time since 2010 that the ‘X Factor’ panel has remained unchanged from the previous series, with Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh all returning, following their stint together last year.
What about ‘The Xtra Factor’?
Well, this is awkward.
After Rylan Clark-Neal and Matt Edmondson made a valiant attempt to save ‘The Xtra Factor’ in 2016, it clearly wasn’t enough, as the show was axed earlier this year. Instead, bosses have announced they will be focusing on online and social media content going forwards.
There’s no word as yet as to who will be fronting this, although we’d love to see last year’s online host Roman Kemp make a return.
What’s going on with auditions this year?
Thankfully, this is one area of this year’s show Simon hasn’t tinkered with, and the judges will still be trying out contestants in the small audition rooms, rather than arenas.
However, reports have suggested there will be a timed element this time around, in order to speed the process up and cut down on “sob stories”.
When do auditions start?
The untelevised producer auditions took place earlier in the year, with their mobile auditions visiting Belfast, Bangor, Southampton, Douglas, Swansea, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bristol, Carlisle, Brighton, Truro, Newport, Wigan, Plymouth, Margate, Stoke on Trent, Exeter, Thurrock and Yeovil throughout May.
There were also open auditions in London, while for the first time ever, hopefuls were also able to audition via WhatsApp.
The judges have since filmed the first round of filmed auditions, visiting Liverpool, Manchester, London and Edinburgh.
Some of the London auditions were also filmed at Thorpe Park, for reasons we’re still not quite sure of.
What about Bootcamp?
After a couple of years of taking place at a country house, Bootcamp has returned to the arena, and was filmed in front of a live audience at Wembley in July.
Will the Six Chair Challenge return?
Despite many viewers (and even Dermot) calling for the competitions most brutal stage to be axed, the controversial Six Chair Challenge will be back again this year.
However, in a change from previous series, the judge picking the acts for their category will sit away from the rest of the judges while they decide - a change which apparently brought Sharon to tears.
Which categories are the judges mentoring?
The contestants found out who they will be mentored by just before Bootcamp, and as audience members at Wembley Arena were privy to the information, the results have how leaked.
Simon has been put in charge of the Groups, Louis has been handed the Boys, Nicole will look after the Overs, while Sharon will mentor the Girls.
Who is helping at Judges’ Houses?
Nothing has yet been confirmed, but is has been widely reported former judge Cheryl will be staging a sensational return to the show to help Simon pick his acts for the live shows, although he has since said this isn’t the case.
Of course, it’s not the first time she’s appeared at Judges’ Houses, having appeared with Gary Barlow in 2012 after she’d quit the show the first time around.
However, Sinitta has said she is poised to return as Simon’s helper, most likely dressed in something ridiculous.
What about the live shows?
Reports have suggested there will be more pre-recorded episodes and fewer weekends of live shows than previous years, in a bid to turn around falling ratings, with Simon reducing the number of them from 10 to six.
It has also been claimed acts will leave the competition on both Saturday and Sunday nights to introduce more tension, while there will be guest performers on both episodes too.
It will also be the first series to come from the show’s new studios at LH2 in Acton, West London, following the closure of The Fountain Studios in Wembley, which had been home to the live stages since 2004.
When is the final?
It was recently rumoured Simon had brought the final of ‘The X Factor’ forward, given the fewer live shows this year, and also to avoid clashing with the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ semi-final.
It’s therefore likely it will take place a week earlier than usual on 2/3 December.
Is there any sort of trailer?
There’s no big promo as of yet, but a small preview of the new series did air during the ‘Love Island’ final on ITV2. It carried the tag line “Simon, Sharon, Louis and Nicole return: The ultimate recoupling”, which we’re not sure quite makes sense, but why let that stand in the way of a good cross-promotional opportunity, eh?