THE BLOG

The X Factor: Still Standing Tall?

13/10/2014 15:24 BST | Updated 13/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Saturday October 12 heralded the much trumpeted return of the X Factor live shows, which immediately raised one small question. One very very small question.

Has Dermot got shorter since last year? Admittedly we didn't see much of him during the audition stages, boot camp or judges houses, but we saw even less of him when he kicked off proceedings with his first and fortunately only air golf ball swing of the evening. Guess that would be mini golf, eh Dermy?

Everyone appeared to be towering over him. While some may continue to sneer and look down their noses at this talent(less) show, little leprechaun O'Leary (no danger of him leering down anyone's cleavage) is peering up the nostrils of practically all the finalists.

The same contestants who having already had a quick sniff of fame - ah yes, fame, that most addictive of all drugs - are now prepared to snort it for all they're worth. From the inner thighs of Louis Walsh, if necessary,

What's that you say, Louis? Higher? Wrong show, love. That was Play Your Cards Right. Mind you, if the members of Stereo Kicks, the eight piece boy band, play their cards right and cosy up to Uncle Louis sufficiently, they might make it through the next few rounds.

Of course, say what you like about the physical stature of the host, what definitely hasn't got any shorter are the commercial breaks. On the contrary, they seem to have got longer and more frequent. They're a constant reminder of how much ITV relies on this entertainment juggernaut to boost its ad revenues.

Anyway, unlike Ebola - wasn't she in the last 8 in 2009? - it's good to have this manipulative piece of television back.

The judges were all in place wondering quite what on earth had possessed them (the devil presumably) to put through the finalists they chose or, more likely, had chosen for them by the producers.

Melanie Brown as the new girl had obviously already been told to live up to her Scary Spice moniker or else. Or else what? Probably that she'd have to wear a different Victoria Beckham outfit every week for the rest of the series.

She at least is telling it how it is. Particularly in the case of Stevi Ritchie. This is a man who is without question on the wrong programme and the wrong station. He clearly should be on the forthcoming run of the Apprentice, BBC1. He's certainly got the demeanour, annoying overblown self confidence and persona of someone who Lord Sugar would fire in week one for being so completely useless.

"Is this some kind of joke?", asked Mel on hearing him sing. Afraid not. He's destined to be this season's Wagner. Besides, after seeing him and his daughter in that cringe making Werther's Original ad - oh, it wasn't an ad - the public surely won't have the heart to vote him out. Not for a good while yet.

As for the rest of the panel, Cheryl's misuse of the English language continues to astound. She seemingly finds it impossible to get her tenses right. Forget about her songs, from here on in, it would perhaps be better if she also mimed her comments to a previously recorded and well rehearsed voice track.

Then there's Simon, the impresario equivalent of Doctor Frankenstein, flown across the Atlantic to inject fresh life into the monster he helped to create all those years ago, but can't afford to now let die. "You're the reason I came back", he keeps saying to selected artists as if to convince himself that if he says it enough, it might actually be true.

At least in Louis "Lou Lou" Walsh, he has his very own bride of Frankenstein. Nearly everything which comes out of this man's mouth can be immediately discounted. However, Louis was unerringly spot on when he said that Jay James was a dead ringer for a young Kevin Costner.

To be honest though, not that many of the contestants looked like they'd be needing a bodyguard anytime soon. Or come to think of it, ever. This week's theme may have been number one's, but number two's was closer to the mark.

Things aren't looking too rosy for some. We all know who they are, even if they're so deluded, they don't. Joining Blonde Electric and Overload Generation (both kicked out on Sunday) other future McDonald's employees of the month surely include Only The Young, Stephanie Nala, Jake Quickenden and the previously mentioned, Stevi Ritchie.

Hey Stevi what happened to the last letter of your christian name? Didn't anyone tell you that it's no longer cool to drop an e, especially at your age. Or have you been taking spelling lessons from Cheryl, perchance?

Those currently most popular with with the bookies and therefore front runners to be performing at Butlins in Skegness for summer 2015, are Lauren Platt, Ben Haenow and Italy's favourite son, Andrea Faustini.

Andrea has got to go all the way, so that when it's the final, the accompanying dancers can be dressed up as pugs with them licking his face and madly humping his leg. Honestly Simon, can't you leave the choreography to Brian Friedman?

All the same, this is far from being a one horse race. There's a long way to go and in the fickle world of popular music anything can happen.

Although they'd never admit it, Syco will just be secretly keeping their fingers crossed that they're not lumbered with another Sam Bailey.