With ‘The X Factor’ live shows currently in full swing, we decided to turn back the clocks and remind ourselves of what things used to look like when the competition reached this stage back in its very first series, in 2004.
Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne were all present and correct, but there were a lot of things that were markedly different about the show, compared to the one we know and love (or, at least, love to hate) today...
1. The ‘X Factor’ voiceover man is notably absent
We thought Peter Dickson had been with ‘X Factor’ from the very beginning, but there is another man’s (slightly less booming) voice speaking over the opening montage.
2. There are no glamorous shots of the judges or contestants in a wind tunnel
The closest thing we get is Sharon, Simon and Louis coming out of three separate lifts.
3. The old titles are strangely hypnotic
The was no ‘X’ flying through space back in 2004.
4. There was a time before Dermot O’Leary hosted ‘X Factor’
Yep, that’s Kate Thornton presenting. We’d completely forgotten that was a thing that happened too.
5. She’s quite bossy too
You wouldn’t get Dermot talking to the audience like that.
6. The set looks beyond budget
There’d certainly be no room for a Brian Friedman production on that stage.
7. And the actual studio itself is titch too
Audience members were practically sat on the contestant’s lap.
8. Rather than making an entrance together, each judge gets their own introduction and walk-on music
They then get to have an awkward hug with Kate. Lucky them.
9. Simon Cowell gets properly booed like a panto villain when he comes on
“I still love you,” Kate tells him. Bet she wasn’t saying that come 2007...
10. There are only nine contestants, rather than a final 12
We guess this is because there was only three judges back then, opposed to the four we’re used to now.
11. In a VT introducing Voices With Soul, Louis genuinely tells his group they’re “not looking great”
Not a fan of a flat cap then, Louis?
12. In the absence of voiceover man, it’s up to Kate to introduce each act to the stage
Each act then has to do a little walk to the ‘X Factor’ theme as they take their place.
13. After their performance, their mentor joins them on stage as the other two judges give their feedback
We have to say we quite like seeing them out from behind the desk.
14. Each judge has their own team of experts to help them, rather than using a collective pool of assistants
You may remember this colourful chap called Mark, who was the vocal coach on Sharon’s team. We wonder what happened to him...
15. Sinitta even has a proper job!
Long before the days of her making a token appearance in a palm leaf outfit, Sinitta was the stylist (!) on Simon’s team. Here she is picking out Steve Brookstein’s outfit.
16. A split screen or a jaunty camera angle is about as creative as the performances get...
No dancers, no props, no pyrotechnics. God, life before the Friedman was dull.
17. There’s a contestant who looked like Paul O’Grady wearing eyeliner and a wig
His name is Tabby, FYI.
18. Not only is there the usual public vote, there’s an audience vote to decide the best judge of the night
Each member of the studio audience has a keypad to cast their votes. (Sharon wins this one, btw.)
19. The results then air later that night
No waiting around 24 hours to find out who goes home, as the results show used to air about two hours after all the performances. (’Ant And Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway’ and ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ were sandwiched in between the two shows on this particular night.)
20. There are no group performance or musical guests
Instead, Kate has a backstage catch up with the acts. We could do without the group performances now, tbh.
21. There’s then a segment in the Pod where the public are seen giving their opinions
Like, literally, WHO CARES?!
22. Kate then gets very stressed out during the results reveal
It’s not just the audience who feel her wrath.
23. After the bottom two is announced, each act sings the SAME song again
No ‘save me’ song here, just a rehashed version of their earlier performance.
24. When it’s decided who’s going home, Kate doesn’t take kindly to any OTT reactions
25. There’s an expectation the judges would actually keep in touch with their contestants
These days, it’s a miracle if Sharon even remembers their name while they’re still in the competition.
26. You could then turn over to watch ‘Xtra Factor’ with Ben Shephard and Terri Seymour
You can watch the first ever ‘X Factor’ live shows in full in the videos below...