Category Archives: ‘The X Factor’

This Week in TV – 14th – 20th December

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV. And as X Factor ends for another year, the Christmas specials begin to come out in force…

Saturday 14th December

The X Factor

ITV, 8:00pm

Tonight, the final three acts perform at Wembley Arena in the hope of being crowned X Factor  winner 2013.'The X Factor' - ITV, 8:00pm

At the time of writing, the acts remaining are Rough Copy, Nicholas McDonald, Luke Friend and Sam Bailey. Personally, I would love to see Sam take the title – and I think she has a very good chance of doing so. She’s been consistently brilliant and, unlike the others, shines no matter what kind of music she’s performing.

Or I’d like to see Nicholas win. Because I fancy him a little bit.

One act will be eliminated tonight, leaving the remaining two to battle it out tomorrow. While The Killers and Tom Odell will be taking to the stage tonight, Katy Perry, One Direction, Sir Elton John and X Factor judge Gary Barlow will be performing tomorrow.

Also today: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (ITV, 2:30pm); the Strictly semi-final (BBC1, 6:40pm); Micky Flanagan, Helen Skelton, Arlene Phillips and Diarmuid Gavin are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 7:00pm); Psychopath Night begins on Channel 4 (9:00pm); to coincide with the release of the sequel on Wednesday, Anchorman is on BBC3 at 10:00pm; the film’s star, Will Ferrell joins David Beckham on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 10:05pm); and BBC2 repeats The Wrong Mans, beginning with a triple bill tonight (10:55pm).

Sunday 15th December

Sports Personality of the Year 2013

BBC1, 7:40pm

Tonight Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan will reveal which sportsperson will follow in'Sports Personality of the Year' - BBC1, 7:40pm the footsteps of 2012 Sports Personality of the Year, Bradley Wiggins.

The contenders this year include: sailing champion, Ben Ainslie; cricketer, Ian Bell; athlete, Hannah Cockroft; runner, Mo Farah; cyclist, Chris Froome; rugby union player, Leigh Halfpenny; jockey and former SPOY winner, AP McCoy; athlete, Christine Ohuruogu; golfer, Justin Rose; and tennis player, Andy Murray.

So, some brilliant contenders this year* but who will be the sixtieth recipient? I have to be honest, I think Andy Murray will take some beating but we’ll find out exactly who wins the award tonight.

*I have no idea if these are ‘brilliant contenders’. I’m as familiar with sport as Katie Hopkins is with tact.

Also today: Let’s Do Christmas With Gino & Mel returns (ITV, 12:30pm), with Cheryl Fergison the first to join in the festive chat and cooking; Ski Sunday is back (BBC2, 5:55pm); Harry Judd, Gareth Gates and Chris Bisson are on The Chase: Celebrity Special (ITV, 6:30pm); find out who’s going through to the Strictly final at 7:00pm; the X Factor winner is announced (ITV, 7:30pm); Britain’s Killer Storms (Channel 4, 7:30pm) looks at the worst weather of 2012; and, as is tradition, Channel 5 counts down Britain’s Favourite Christmas Songs (9:30pm).

Christmas specials include: The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC2, 7:40pm) and Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:30pm).

Monday 16th December

A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards

ITV, 9:00pm

Now in its sixth year, The Millies celebrates the exceptional work and bravery of the British military.'A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards' - ITV, 9:00pm

As always, the intrepid recipients have been selected by a panel of judges, this year comprising of Andy McNab, Lorraine Kelly, Holly Willoughby, Jeremy Clarkson and former military chiefs Admiral Lord West, Field Marshal Lord Guthrie, Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire and General Sir Mike Jackson.

So, join hosts Philip Schofield and Amanda Holden, along with an audience of celebrities and politicians, for a night of rare celebration of the brilliance of our Forces.

Also today: The first instalment of World’s Strongest Man 2013 (Channel 5, 7:00pm); Kirsty’s Crafty Christmas (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Tom Kerridge Cooks Christmas (BBC2, 8:30pm); and the last-ever Ripper Street (BBC1, 9:00pm).

Christmas specials include: Don’t Tell the Bride (BBC3, 9:00pm) and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, hosted by Johnny Vegas (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 17th December

The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special 

BBC2, 8:00pm

In this one-off festive masterclass, Bake Off judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry show viewers'The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special' - BBC2, 8:00pm  how to create some top Christmas treats.

Stollen, Mincemeat Streusel and a Gingerbread House (pictured) are on the menu tonight, as well as Paul’s own Boxing Day pie.

If you’re struggling for a unique, homemade treat to top of your Christmas celebrations, this may just be ideal!

Also today: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (ITV, 7:30pm); Pothole Britain: Drivers Beware! (Channel 5, 8:00pm); and documentary The Lockerbie Bombing (ITV, 11:00pm).

Christmas specials include: The Call Centre (BBC3, 9:00pm); Bad Education (BBC3, 10:00pm); and The Matt Lucas Awards (BBC1, 10:35pm), with Alan Davies, Jo Brand and Rhod Gilbert.

Wednesday 18th December

The Great Train Robbery 

BBC1, 8:00pm

Last year ITV brought us the fantastic Mrs Biggs, and now Auntie have this two-part drama based on'The Great Train Robbery' - BBC1, 8:00pm the 1963 heist.

Written by Broadchurch scribe Chris Chibnall, the series begins with ‘A Robber’s Tale’, the story of the heist, told from the perspective of the perpetrators. We see the gang plan, rehearse and finally execute the theft, including the many humorous slip-ups they made and obstacles they faced along the way.

Starring Luke Evans, Neil Maskell and Martin Compston, this opening episode tells of the group’s extraordinary luck, and how that luck would change their lives forever.

Also today: Excessive Compulsive Collectors (Channel 5, 8:00pm); the conclusion of Lucan (ITV, 9:00pm); Britain’s Craziest Christmas Lights (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and the credits roll on Gogglebox for the final time this year (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Christmas specials include: Food & Drink (BBC2, 8:00pm); Surprise, Surprise (ITV, 8:00pm); and Backchat, with Lee Mack (BBC3, 10:00pm). There are also repeats of last year’s Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Sarah Millican Television Programme specials (BBC1, 9:30pm and BBC2, 10:00pm).

Thursday 19th December

Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 

ITV, 8:00pm

Chris Tarrant presents what may be the final-ever Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? celebrity special.'Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' - ITV, 8:00pm  Or indeed the final-ever Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

Among the celebrity pairs tonight are Sir Alex Ferguson and Eamonn Holmes, who are of course pals owing to their Manchester United link.

Now, with Chris Tarrant having left the show (as he made plain during his cringeworthy Jonathan Ross Show interview), it’s possible that this will be the last time that we’ll see contestants taking to the hot seat.

Still, I’m sure we’ll get over it.

Also today: Hairy Bikers’ Christmas Party (BBC2, 7:00pm); The Great Train Robbery concludes (BBC1, 8:00pm); Alex Polizzi’s Perfect Christmas (BBC2, 8:00pm); George Clarke’s Amazing Christmas Spaces (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Giles Coren and Alexander Armstrong host The 12 Drinks of Christmas (BBC2, 9:00pm); Phil Taggart presents Christmas on Benefits (BBC3, 9:00pm); the last-ever episode of Him & Her (BBC3, 10:00pm); highlights of Celebrity Juice in Parallel Juicyverse (ITV2, 10:00pm); and one-off documentary Utopia (ITV, 10:35pm).

Christmas specials include: Educating Yorkshire (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and last year’s Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Royle Family (BBC1, 9:30pm and 10:35pm) – the first of which was disappointing, the latter just plain abysmal. Sorry, Caroline and Craig, but you’ll have to do better than that!

Friday 20th December

Text Santa 

ITV, 8:00pm

It’s slowly becoming as much a fixture as Comic Relief and Children in Need – and, now in its third'Text Santa' - ITV, 8:00pm year, ITV’s Text Santa appeal is back.

Although the big telethon actually begins at eight o’clock, there are programmes in aid of Text Santa throughout the day on ITV. Dickinson’s Real Deal, from Birmingham, is on at 3:00pm and The Chase is at 5:00pm. If The Chase special is anything like last year’s, which saw all of the Chasers dressed as pantomime characters, it should be brilliant.

Back to the show itself, though, and hosts Ant & Dec, Philip Schofield, Holly Willoughby, Paddy McGuinness and Christine Bleakley will be bringing three hours of festive entertainment, including Corrie, Emmerdale and Take Me Out specials and a performance of this year’s single, ‘I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday’, by the Big Reunion cast.

The six charities benefiting this year are: Age UK, Barnardo’s, BeatBullying, British Heart Foundation, CLIC Sargent and Help the Hospices. To find out more about these causes, and how to donate to the appeal, click here.

There will also be a highlights package at 11:45pm.

Also today: Gordon Ramsay’s Festive Home Cooking (Channel 4, 8:00pm); The Xtra Factor: Judges All-Time Best and Worst (ITV2, 8:00pm); 2013: Moments in Time (BBC2) and Have I Got 2013 For You (BBC1) look back at the events of the year at 9:00pm; Jack Whitehall hosts Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); Alan Carr welcomes Katy Perry onto his show (Channel 4, 10:00pm) and Julie Walters, Tinie Tempah, Idris Elba and Miranda Hart are on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Christmas specials today include: University Challenge (BBC2, 7:30pm); Citizen Khan (BBC1, 8:30pm); and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings (Channel 4, 9:00pm).

This Christmas in TV (for 21st December 2013 – 3rd January 2014) will be published at the earlier time of midnight on Monday (9th December).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: The X Factor – Thanks to ITV and Tom Dymond, ©Thames TV; Sports Personality of the Year – Thanks to BBC, Ray Burmiston and Joel Anderson, ©BBC; A Night of Heroes: The Sun Military Awards – Thanks to ITV and TwoFour Productions, ©The Sun; The Great British Bake Off Christmas Special – Thanks to BBC and Love Productions, ©Love Productions; The Great Train Robbery – Thanks to BBC, World Productions and Robert Viglasky, ©World Productions; Live Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? – Thanks to ITV and Victory Television, ©Victory Television; Text Santa – ©ITV.


‘The X Factor’ 10 – Auditions Week 2 Review

With a second week of X Factor came some more of the weird and wonderful warbling hopefuls this country has to offer.

Actually, this series seems to be offering more of the wonderful than the weird, which is a welcome change for The X Factor. Each week I select and write about my five favourite auditions, so naturally not all of the best – and by that I mean talented – contestants will make it onto here. There were some fantastic auditionees this week, and I particularly wish I’d written about the Yodeller, but these are my favourites, and the ones which stuck in my mind the most. So, here we go…

Thomas FeelyThomas Feely
Let’s start with someone who was memorable for all the wrong reasons, shall we? This incredibly boring and straight-faced disc jockey was simply hilarious. He entered the audition room, laptop in hand (innuendo very much intended there) and proceeded to warble through Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely’. Bless him, it wasn’t brilliant and he received some brutally frank feedback from Gary, but he tried – and you have to admire him for that.

Relley C
This very giggly, overwhelmed housekeeper from Birmingham got off toRelley C a bit of a shaky start with her song in her first audition but soon came into her own and managed to showcase her talent. Not only did Relley seem a fantastic singer, she had such likability, too. At her arena audition, however, things were quite different. Her chosen song, Chase and Status’s ‘Blind Faith’, was not right for her at all, and she tried to do too much with it. Nicole stopped the song half way through and Relley was met with silence from the audience and negative comments from the judges – but because of her ‘potential’ and strong original audition, she received four yeses. So she sailed through to Boot Camp. Despite how good we’ve seen her be previously, does this make something of a mockery of the arena auditions? Hmm, I’ll leave that for you to decide.Abi Alton

Abi Alton
Morrisons worker Abi, from near Middlesborough, went to her X Factor audition armed with only her dad, guitar and superb voice. I can’t believe Louis didn’t think she was right for the show: I thought she couldn’t have been more perfect, and am so pleased he realised that at the arena stage, when Abi sang her wonderful self-penned song. She sounds quite similar to Ellie Goulding and I have no doubt will have an awful lot of fans out there and will go far in the competition.

Colin Stacey
Whereas Abi turned up at her audition with her biggest fan – her dad – ColinColin Stacey appeared with a framed picture of his: his cat, Patch. His song of choice was ‘Someone Like You’ – but unfortunately sang it about twice as fast as Adele, and with less than half the ability, too. Despite Gary and Nicole singing along and trying to get him back on track, Colin failed to stay in time with the music – not that it would have been any better if he did, mind you – and was sent home. I guess Colin won’t be following in the footsteps of Joe McElderry and Matt Cardle after all – or “Joe McElddy and Matt Cardell”, according to him.

Melanie McCabe
The final auditionee of each X Factor episode is invariably brilliant, andMelanie McCabe Melanie was no different. She was the last in a long line of former auditionees (which included 2011’s Jade Richards, 2012’s Amy Mottram and 2006’s The Dolly Rockers) and was hoping that it would be fourth time lucky for her, having tried in 2009, 11 and 12 – but only ever getting as far as Judges’ Houses. I have huge respect for her for auditioning four times: that shows true dedication and determination. In my opinion her arena audition wasn’t as impressive as that in the room, but nevertheless she has a beautiful voice and I really hope that Dermot’s right, and this year will be different for her.

The X Factor is on Saturday and Sunday nights on ITV, with The Xtra Factor immediately after on ITV2

What did you think of The X Factor? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

All images thanks to ITV and Tom Dymond, ©Thames TV

‘The X Factor’ 10 – Auditions Week 1 Review

As has been tradition for the past decade now, with the ending of August came the beginning of another series of what ITV will not let us forget is ‘the biggest show on telly’: The X Factor!

It appears to be crunch time for the show: last year’s ratings were down by an average of 1 million an episode, suggesting that people are getting bored with the format, and 2013 marks the end of ITV’s X Factor contract. So, depending on how well this series does, we may or may not see the show again next year. A life without X Factor! Scary.

Thankfully it appears that this series will be a successful one: viewers seem to have taken the changes to the format (reintroduction of Audition Rooms, return of Mrs O, etc.) well. Not only were people raving about it on social media, it attracted a peak audience of 9.7 million – which is still a far cry from the 11 million who tuned in to 2011’s opening episode, but vitally up by a million on that of last year. You can almost hear Simon Cowell breathing a sigh of relief.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this first episode, too. For a few years now, X Factor has been in need of reinvigoration – and who knew that simply bringing back two old favourites would do the trick?

It’s brilliant to have the “faaaaabulous, darling” Sharon Osbourne back on the panel. Not only does she bring some much-needed naughtiness to the auditions but she seems to be getting on well with all of the panel. Of course, it was a given that she and Louis would once again be joined at the hip but I was surprised to see that she doesn’t dislike Nicole. That’s not to say that she would have any reason to dislike her (my love for Sharon aside, the “Schermazing” Ms. Scherzinger remains my favourite judge) – but after the whole Dannii Minogue saga, I sort of expected her to immediately make any younger female member of the panel an enemy. Like I said, though, they seem to be getting on well.

The Room auditions made a very welcome return, too. I think with the arenas came too much acerbity, whether that was from the audience’s merciless booing and jeering or the judges being unnecessarily harsh and unforgiving towards auditionees (which in turn may have been owing to them wanting to show off to the crowd). And yes, there is still some bitchiness from the judges in the audition rooms but not much. Then, when the successful room auditionees perform at Wembley Arena, the judges feel like they already know them, so are therefore less inclined to tear them to shreds. It’s nice to see a bit of tact and politeness re-enter The X Factor.

So, that’s what I thought of the new – or should I say returning? – elements but what about the contestants themselves? Well there were a few surprises this weekend – the main one being that there was actually quite a bit of talent served up.

J-Star Valentine

Sadly, J-Star wasn’t part of it. I think he and his sister knew what exactly they were doing: you don’t just walk into an X Factor audition, sing like an asthmatic Alexandra Burke and think that you’ve nailed it. I like to think that auditions like J-Star’s are a bet: you get drunk one night and during a game of truth or dare you’re landed with the latter and fill out and send off an X Factor application. And then there’s no going back, so you have to go through with it and make yourself look and sound as stupid as possible to get on TV and make it even slightly worth your while. But if that’s not what happened with J-Star, God help him. Perhaps he should audition with ‘The Laughing Policeman’ next year?

Luke Britnell

Justin Bieber tribute act (they exist? Lord help us!) Luke performed his own very good, very catchy song, entitled ‘Think Positive’. It was feelgood, it was different and I was so pleased he got through – although there was no chance of him not at the room auditions. I started to think that he could be the next Gabz from Britain’s Got Talent – she did quite well with her song, ‘Lighters’. Ditto Lucy Spraggan with ‘Lighthouse’.

And then his arena audition happened. His rendition of Daft Punk’s ‘Lucky’ didn’t go down well with half of the panel, meaning he received just two ‘yeses’ and was sent home. I was truly gutted for him. He had a great personality and while his arena audition wasn’t as impressive as his original, I think he should have been given a second chance. I hope we see him again next year. Then again, we don’t even know if there’ll be an X Factor next year, do we?

Sam Bailey

With the return of X Factor of course comes the return of the sob story. Sam’s seemed to be that she had a deaf dog. It’s like Peter Kay’s spoof never happened! Thankfully she had a lovely voice, too – and impressive range. Ooh, listen to me getting all technical! I think in her arena audition she was a bit adventurous with the notes at times and tried to go beyond her abilities but overall she was fantastic, and the judges and audience – both at Wembley and in the Twittersphere – seemed to love her. You can just tell that she’s one of these people for whom The X Factor will be life-changing.


I defy you not to love Fil (‘with an F’). His room audition was somewhat…unorthodox, shall we say, but there was some talent lurking in there somewhere as he did have quite a good voice. Fil (with an F, remember) transpired to be all mouth, no action, though, as the rockstar image that he boasted about just meant that he warbled and wandered around the audition room, guitar in hand, and showed none of the feistiness that is needed to be a real rock God. The judges initially sent him home but then decided to give him a second chance – on the condition that he would come back with a bit of fire in his belly and really become a rockstar.

He didn’t. He just removed his shirt, ran around the auditorium at Wembley Arena and then jumped on the judges’ desk, meaning poor Sharon was just inches away from Fil’s Fallus (with an F, naturally). Bless him, he really tried to embody a rockstar but he was more like a Stars in Their Eyes contestant impersonating Alice Cooper without wanting to make a fuss.

Silver Rock

At their first audition, Silver Rock performed as a duo but the judges failed to see them working well together, so gave them the opportunity to go through to the arena stage as solo artists. They accepted this offer and split surprisingly amicably – although admittedly it may have been a different story of if they had known each other for a few years, instead of just a couple of weeks.

I liked Jerrie in her arena audition, but it appears that the judges didn’t because they gave her just two ‘yeses’ and sent her home. Tamera, on the other hand, did get through to Boot Camp, but it wasn’t an easy ride for her: very nervously she stood on the stage while her song, Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’, began. She lifted the microphone to her mouth and…nothing. She had frozen and forgotten her words. The judges allowed her a few minutes to gather herself, go backstage and have a quick chat with her mum, who, along with Dermot, reminded Tamera of the lyrics of her song. She took to the stage once again and – give or take a few stumbles – shone. She was brilliant! It’s difficult to know whether it was just nerves that got the better of her on the day or she will continue to have a problem with remembering lyrics but I hope it was simply a one-off – because I doubt the judges will be quite so lenient if she messes up again.

Hannah Barrett

Yes, seventeen-year-old Hannah had a bit of a ‘sob story’ to tell but that doesn’t matter. I admire her for overcoming so much adversity in her life, taking a stand and wowing everyone with her renditions of ‘Read All About It’ and ‘One Night Only’. She has an amazing talent and I wish her all the best in the competition. Of course, no one can completely know what goes on behind closed doors but I hope her mum watched The X Factor and saw her daughter do herself proud.


So, a strong opener for X Factor, not just in terms of ratings but the talent on offer, too. If the series continues in this way, we should be in for a few months of brilliance.


The X Factor is on Saturday and Sunday nights on ITV, with The Xtra Factor immediately after on ITV2

What did you think of The X Factor? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

This Week in TV – 31st August – 6th September

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – with the return of a doc, a teacher and four tough judges. I’m sure you’ll have heard of them.

Saturday 31st August

The X Factor

ITV, 8:00pm

There are three shows beginning on ITV tonight but the biggest of course has to be The X Factor!

As I’m sure you’ve read, it’s all change this year on X Factor: Tulisa’s out and, after six years, Sharon is back in – alongside Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh, for whom this is his final series. Plus, the audition rooms (last seen in 2008) are back, with the contestants having to impress the judges in an intimate setting before, if they’re deemed good enough, going to Wembley to perform in front of a crowd of 12,000. And, as well as the auditions stage being altered for this series, the way it’s being shown is changing. The ‘audition rooms’ will be shown on a Saturday night and then on Sunday we will see the successful auditionees from that stage perform again at Wembley Arena. It is at this point that we will find out if they have progressed to Boot Camp. So, we have double X Factor every weekend from now until Christmas! Great news for fans of the show, devastating for those who were enjoying a bit of Tipping Point of a Sunday evening.

In an attempt to boost ratings (episodes regularly dropped a million viewers last year, in comparison to the 2011 series), Simon’s back, too! He will be advising Gary, Louis, Nicole and Sharon at Boot Camp who to put through and will even be judging the Live Shows – via satellite link.

So get ready for three months of bitching and screeching – and that’s just from Louis. Hopefully the changes will go down well, ITV will renew X Factor‘s contract (which expires this year) and Cowell won’t have to rely on the Mothercare vouchers from Cheryl Cole to get Little Simon a big, posh buggy. We’ll have to wait and see whether that happens but one thing’s for sure: with Sharon back, it’s going to be one hell of a series!

Also today: Shane Richie and Claudia Winkleman are on That Puppet Game Show (BBC1, 5:15pm); there’s a Pointless Celebrities chefs special (BBC1, 6:15pm); Davina McCall hosts new reality show Stepping Out (ITV, 6:30pm), in which celebrities and their real-life partners learn to dance; Tinchy Stryder and Alex Jones are on I Love My Country (BBC1, 7:05pm); Keith Lemon steps into the shoes of David Frost and Loyd Grossman as he revives Through the Keyhole (or Through T’Keyhole) (ITV, 9:20pm); and Caroline Flack and her new co-presenter Matt Richardson have a new series of The Xtra Factor (ITV2, 9:20pm).

Sunday 1st September

The Story of the Jews

BBC2, 9:00pm'The Story of the Jews' - BBC2, 9:00pm

In this five-part documentary, beginning tonight, Simon Schama takes a trip through Jewish history, from the very beginning to the present day.

This episode – entitled ‘In the Beginning’ – goes back to the origins of Judaism, when the Hebrew Bible was created, telling the story of a tribe’s tumultuous relationship with their jealous God. This ‘God of Words’, and Jews’ loyalty to it, became the centre of the faith, and helped see its followers through centuries of adversity.

As the series progresses, Simon reveals how these events from three millennia ago helped shape the religion and greatly influence the lives of Jews today.

Also today: Teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You (Channel 4, 2:30pm); Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Channel 4, 5:30pm); The Pursuit of Happyness (Channel 5, 5:55pm); one-off documentary Rebuilding the World Trade Centre (Channel 4, 7:40pm), which follows artist Marcus Robinson’s attempt to recapture the tragic structure; Vince Vaughan film The Dilemma (Channel 4, 9:00pm); A Touch of Cloth II concludes (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); and action film The Expendables is on Channel 5 at 10:00pm.

Monday 2nd September

Doc Martin

ITV, 9:00pm

Yes, Martin Clunes is back once again as the no-nonsense, stubborn Doctor Ellingham for a sixth series of Doc Martin.

Of course in the last series Martin and Louisa were brought even closer together as they now had their son, James, to look after. Actually, they didn’t do such a grand job of that as James was in fact kidnapped in the final episode by Mrs Tishell, who has for a long time been madly in love with Martin. The drama of it all prompted the Doc to propose, and this series will see that wedding – but will it actually come to fruition? After all, Martin seldom welcomes the idea of commitment. Who can forget him and Louisa alone together when she visited the surgery, with him poised to say ‘I love you’ but bottling it at the last moment and instead declaring, ‘I’ll need to take a stool sample’. The most tactile of people he is not.

It should be an interesting series: if they get married, there will surely be ups and downs (with more of the latter, I imagine) and if they don’t I expect there will be quite a lot of fall-out from that. Anyway, it’s always nice to shut off from the outside world and immerse yourself in life in Portwenn and that’s something that I certainly can’t wait to do.

Fans of Doc Martin might also like to know that there are now novels to accompany the series. Not well publicised, Doc Martin: Practice Makes Perfect – about Martin’s arrival in Portwenn – has just been released, and is available in paperback from Amazon for just £3.50! A Christmas book – Mistletoe and Whine – will be released in November.

Also today, a lot of shows return: Rip Off Britain is back (BBC1, 9:15am); Phil and Holly return from their summer break for more This Morning (ITV, 10:30am); Plan It, Build It begins on BBC1 (11:45am); suffer Julia Bradbury’s new show no more as Bradley Walsh is back with brand-new The Chase (ITV, 5:00pm); Inisde Out returns (BBC1, 7:30pm); documentary series Swansea Market begins (BBC2, 7:30pm); Countrywise returns (ITV, 8:00pm); Jamie Oliver has some Money Saving Meals (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Gadget Man is back, this time with Richard Ayoade (Channel 4, 8:30pm); Robert Peston Goes Shopping begins (BBC2, 9:00pm); The Lost Hero of 9/11 (Channel 4, 9:00pm) tells the story of former US Marine, Jason Thomas; The Insider (which is not too dissimilar to Undercover Boss) begins (BBC3, 9:00pm); and film Miss Congeniality is on ITV2 at 9:00pm.

Tuesday 3rd September

Bad Education

BBC3, 10:00pm

Lock up your sons and daughters: Jack Whitehall is back as Alfie Wickers, the world’s most hopeless teacher, in the second series of sitcom Bad Education.

I did get a little bored with Bad Education last year – it just seemed to be full of stereotypes: the gay one, the slutty one, the chavvy one, the fat one, etc. It proved popular, though, and I’ll still be watching (there are worse ways to spend a Tuesday night).

As we rejoin the Abbey Grove group, the school swimming gala is imminent and Alfie has decided to enter his class into the synchronised diving. Let’s just say that the students aren’t entirely happy with this – but the promise of a trip to a restaurant soon makes them enter into the spirit of things.

Of course, if you can’t wait until Tuesday to see Abbey Grove re-open its doors, you can always go to BBC iPlayer, where the first episode of the new series has already premiered.

Also today: Aussie Animal Island begins (ITV, 7:30pm); Ade Edmondson looks at how TV commercials have mirrored British life over the decades in Ade in Adland (ITV, 8:00pm); Trauma: Level One (ITV, 9:00pm) takes an inside look at the University Hospital Southampton’s specialist trauma unit; one-off documentary Siege in the Sahara (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and on BBC1 there’s The Woman Who Woke Up Chinese (10:35pm) – which is as bonkers as it seems.

Wednesday 4th September

Big Star’s Little Star

ITV, 8:00pm

Stephen Mulhern presents this new six-part entertainment series, which will see some of our best-loved stars left red-faced by their own children.

Each week, a host of famous faces will enter the studio with their kids, who will reveal embarrassing anecdotes and cringeworthy facts about their parents, which would have been best kept to themselves. The show begins with a series of Mr & Mrs-style rounds, in which the aim is for the celebrity and the child to give the same answer to a question, and then ends with the one remaining pair winning £5,000 for their chosen charity. However, they can then treble that money by correctly matching together pictures related to their lives.

Will Mellor, Jamelia and Duncan James are just three of the stars who will be taking part.

Also today: Romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Channel 4, 12:55pm); Hairy Bikers’ Meals on Wheels Back on the Road begins (BBC2, 8:00pm); Harrow: A Very British School starts (Sky1 HD, 8:00pm); EastEnders star Nitin Ganatra is the focus of this week’s Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); drama Whitechapel (ITV) and makeover series Grand Designs (Channel 4) return at 9:00pm; another big name gets the boot in Celebrity Big Brother: Live Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm & 11:00pm); and Boris Johnson is a guest on The Last Leg (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 5th September

Pat & Cabbage

ITV, 8:30pm

Barbara Flynn and Cherie Lunghi star as the eponymous best friends Pat and Cabbage in this brand-new sitcom.

The pair have recently become single, after Pat’s husband suddenly died and Cabbage divorced her partner, and they intend to exploit their new-found freedom by going on many adventures, doing what they like and not caring what people think. They are growing old disgracefully and proud to be, too!

Pat and Cabbage must deal with their home lives while also trying to maintain their own fun-filled private ones, but with their families dubious about how long the friends can continue with their shenanigans, there will be more than a few obstacles in their way as they pursue some amusement.

Also today: Waterloo Road begins another term (BBC1, 8:00pm); one-off documentary Mum and Dad Are Splitting Up (BBC2, 9:00pm); Tamsin Greig and Katherine Kelly star in brand new drama The Guilty (ITV, 9:00pm); Educating Yorkshire begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); J from 5ive wants answers as The Big Reunion: On Tour hits the road (ITV2, 9:00pm); crime film Public Enemies is on ITV4 (9:00pm); Bouncers (Channel 4, 10:00pm) shows the day-to-day work of doormen in Essex and the north-east; Alex  Jones, Nathan Sykes and Jason Derulo join the fun in Celebrity Juice (ITV2, 10:00pm); and George Clooney and Brad Pitt star in crime comedy Burn After Reading (ITV4, 11:45pm).

Friday 6th September


BBC2, 10:00pm

As QI returns for its eleventh series – this time focussing on the letter K – the first topic is ‘Knees and Knockers’. Ooh-er!

Joining the brainy Stephen and moronic (and greying) Alan in this opening episode is Jack Whitehall, David Mitchell and newcomer Sara Pascoe. Sara’s not the only first-timer we’ll see in this series, though – also popping their QI cherries will be: Victoria Wood, Richard Osman, Noel Fielding, Isy Suttie, Tim Minchin, Katherine Ryan, Josh Widdicombe, Graham Linehan, Janet Street-Porter, Trevor Noah and Mrs Brown’s Boys star Brendan O’Carroll, who will make an appearance in the Christmas special, ‘Kris Kringle’.

Who will receive the dreaded ‘wrong answer’ Klaxon? Who will be Stephen’s teacher’s pet? We’ll have to wait to find out…

Also today: Celebrity MasterChef: The Final (BBC1, 8:30pm) – who will impress with their three course meal?; Secrets of the Pickpockets is back for another one-off (Channel 4, 9:00pm); there’s yet another Celebrity Big Brother: Live Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); David Walliams, Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx are on Alan Carr: Chatty Man (Channel 4, 10:00pm), which also features a performance from the reformed original Sugababes line-up, now under the name of Mutya Keisha Siobhan; 2010 adaptation The Tempest premieres (BBC2, 11:05pm); and Paul Chowdhry: What’s Happening White People gets its first TV airing (Channel 4, 11:05pm).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: The Story of the Jews – Thanks to BBC, Oxford Film and Television and Tim Kirby, ©Oxford Film and Television; Bad Education – Thanks to BBC, Tiger Aspect and Scott Kershaw, ©Tiger Aspect; QI – Thanks to BBC, Talkback and Brian J Richie, ©Talkback (part of FremantleMediaUK).

It’s Time to Face the Music: ‘X Factor’ is Back!

It seems that not a week has passed this year in which there hasn’t been at least one story in the papers relating to The X Factor – whether they be true or fabricated.

Well, the wait is finally almost over as this Saturday, Gary, Louis and Nicole are back, and this year are bringing Sharon Osbourne and the ‘old skool’ auditions with them. That’s right: no audience, no big flashy arena stage – just the judges and the auditionees, within spitting distance of each other. And if this batch of hopefuls are anything like previous years’, there may be quite a bit of spitting. And water chucking. And bleep machines required.


A far cry from the days of New Faces and Op Knocks, nowadays people are less concerned withSharon Osbourne who is auditioning for that life-changing record deal, they’re more bothered about who the judges are,  what they’re wearing, and whether they’re bitching about each other. Well, I might not be able to help with the last two questions, but I can certainly write about the first.

Of course, the big news is that Sharon is back. I’m so pleased, and it seems that Sharon is too (although with someone who’s had so much plastic surgery, it is hard for one to tell) – apparently it only took a little of Simon’s wining and dining to get her back on board. Also, Gary Barlow has said that Sharon and Louis are already ‘ganging up on’ himself and Nicole, so that judge rivalry for which the X Factor is often best lovedNicole Scherzinger doesn’t seem to have disappeared. Even if it is just for one series (which she claims it is), it’ll be fantastic to have Sharon back, and if there’s a lot of more moments like this,  it should be a fun series!

The other female member of the panel is the ‘Schermazeballs’ Nicole Scherzinger, who is beginning her second year on the show. Perhaps it was because she only had competition from Louis, Gary and Tulisa, but she really shone last year, and my favourite part of each episode was not seeing whether James Arthur would crack a smile (he never did) or how many steps up the Dulux colour chart Christopher Maloney had taken his tan (I think he reached Bongo Jazz at one point), it was hearing Nicole’sLouis Walsh latest mad concoction of a phrase – from dubbing the openly gay Lucy Spraggan ‘spunky’ to telling the ‘Jahmazing’ Jahmene Douglas to ‘grow some balls’. These  Scherzisms became legendary, and we must have more in this series! I’m looking forward to seeing her again.

And finally there’s Gary and Louis: the two who are (allegedly) jumping ship at the end of this series. I suppose that’s been on the cards for some time for Louis, hasn’t it? Ever since Simon sacked him (but reinstated him a matter of weeks later) in 2007, the press have heralded a new series of the show with the story of Louis’s imminent departure. Well I guess this time they were right and, if the news is true, we shall have to savour thisGary Barlow last few months of Louis’s mispronunciations of contestants’ names and feeble arguing with his fellow judges. Bless him. Also, there have been reports that Gary is leaving (with X Factor host Dermot O’Leary recently suggesting so at the premier of One Direction: This Is Us), so fans of his may also have to make the most of him being on the panel.

In an unorthodox move, each of the judges’ allocated categories have been announced before the series has even begun airing. So (spoiler alert!): Louis is handling the boys (stop sniggering, please), Nicole has been given the girls, Gary has the groups (no pressure there, then) and Sharon is in charge of the Over 25s – something which she is reportedly furious about. Oh dear, Shazza.


So, those are the judges – but what about the auditions? Well, after a few weeks of mobile and open auditions in front of the show’s producers, the judges auditions began on 4th June in Glasgow. As has been widely reported, before the contestants reach the arena stage (which has been in place for the past four years), they will have to impress Sharon, Nicole, Gary and Louis in the back-to-basics audition rooms, which were held, in addition to Glasgow, in Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and London. However, the arena stage has not been completely scrapped: auditions were held at  Wembley Arena for four days last month.

As well as the auditions stage being altered for this series, the way it’s being shown is also changing. The ‘audition rooms’ stage will be shown on a Saturday night and then on Sunday night we will see the successful auditionees from that stage perform again at Wembley. It is at this point that we will find out if they have progressed to Boot Camp. So, we now have double X Factor every weekend! Great news for fans of the show, devastating for those who were enjoying a bit of Tipping Point of a Sunday evening.

Of course, there’s a lot riding on this series: last year, every episode was down by an average of 1million viewers, in comparison to the 2011 run – hence the drastic changes to the format. Not that the show’s boss, Simon Cowell, needs any mare aggro – what with the pitter-patter of tiny feet soon to echo around his LA mansion – but it appears to be something of a ‘make or break’ time for The X Factor. This year marks the end of the show’s current contract with ITV, and there has been no confirmation of an eleventh series next year. Simon needs to hope that the changes he has made will be enough to assure ITV that there’s still mileage in the format, and it’s one which is worth investing in for the next few years. Of course, the fact that he’ll be advising the judges at Boot Camp and appearing as a judge via satellite link at the live shows may just help…


And there’s a bit of change over on ITV2 as Olly Murs has quit The Xtra Factor to focus on his music career, so Caroline Flack (who began hosting the show with Olly in 2011) has been given comedian Matt Richardson (pictured) to present with. Seeing as his only notable TV appearances seem to be an episode of Sweat the Small Stuff and a spot on Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, it’s no surprise that I’m not entirely familiar with Matt’s work, but he has won many awards on the stand-up circuit, so I’m sure he’ll be great.

As always, Caroline and Matt will be going behind-the-scenes of X Factor, speaking to the judges and auditionees, as well as giving us some exclusive auditions and a fe w games and a bit of fun on the side – including a round of ‘Would You Rather’ with the panel.


So, there we have it: The X Factor 10 – will it be a few changes too far for the show, or will it prove to be a brand new beginning for the format, meaning it will run for a few years more, and Cowell won’t have to rely on the Mothercare vouchers from Cheryl Cole to get Little Simon a big, posh buggy? We’ll have to wait and see, but one thing’s for sure: with Sharon back, it’s going to be one hell of a series!

Image credits: Unless otherwise stated, all images thanks to Nicky Johnston, ©ITV

The X Factor Series 10 begins on Saturday 31st August at 8:00pm on ITV, with The Xtra Factor following immediately after at 9:20pm on ITV2

My reviews of The X Factor will be online after every Sunday episode

What do you think of the changes to The X Factor? Are you pleased about Sharon? Sad about Louis? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

This Week in TV – 24th – 30th August

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – from Hancock to Lemon and Carr. Oh, and a few serious bits thrown in. Just to even it out.

Saturday 24th August

The Xtra Factor Rewind

ITV2, 9:00pm

There’s just one week to go until Louis, Gary and Nicole return for another series of The X Factor –  alongside Sharon Osbourne, who has been absent for six (long) years.

In this one-off episode, Xtra Factor host Caroline Flack takes us on a trip down memory lane to revisit last year’s ‘Schermazeballs’ series. So, expect a bit of miserable-faced champion, James Arthur; some former shelf-stacker, Jahmene Douglas; a generous helping of semi-finalists Union J; and a lot of Rylan Clark. Oh, and of course Scouse crooner, Christopher Maloney – whose royalties for appearing on Rewind will go straight to his nan. Naturally.

My preview of the tenth series of The X Factor, which begins a week today, will be online from midnight on Tuesday.

Also today: It’s a Pointless Celebrities radio special at 5:35pm (BBC1) as a group of famous faces – or rather famous voices – compete for the ‘coveted Pointless trophy’; Jack Dee and Alex Jones are on That Puppet Game Show (BBC1, 6:25pm); the sixth in the Harry Potter franchise, The Half-Blood Prince is on ITV at 7:00pm; Alex Jones pops up again, alongside Micky, Frank and Gabby, on I Love My Country (BBC1, 7:05pm); film The A-Team is on Channel 4 (9:20pm), as is Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra Live at the Royal Albert Hall (11:35pm).

Sunday 25th August

What Remains

BBC1, 9:00pm

Starring David Threlfall (pictured), Russell Tovey and Amber Rose Revah, What Remains is a suspense-filled ‘whodunnit’ from Hotel Babylon and Inside Men writer, Tony Basgallop.

Michael and Vidya (Tovey and Revah) are a couple about to embark on'What Remains' - BBC1, 9:00pm an exciting new life together. However, when they move into their flat at 8 Coulthard Street, they find that they have a leak – which leads to the discovery of the remains of Melissa Young. Melissa has been missing for two years – but never registered so, and no one seems to have noticed her disappearance.

This is where DI Len Harper (Threlfall) comes in. He is put in charge of the case, which is seemingly easy to get to the bottom of. Harper has his own problems, though, and the mystery of Melissa’s disappearance and death acts as the perfect distraction for him. He puts his all into the investigation, refusing to take his retirement (which he was due to start a week after he began working on the case) until he uncovers the truth. During his search, he discovers the secrets that each of Michael and Vidya’s new neighbours are holding, and how they all, in some way, have a part to play in Melissa’s death.

Also today: 2011 film, Chalet Girl premieres (Channel 4, 6:15pm); Iolo Williams presents Iolo’s Great Welsh Parks (BBC2, 6:30pm); Liz McClarnon, Keith Duffy and Dan Whiston compete in the last in the series of Tipping Point: Lucky Stars (ITV, 7:00pm); Vera is back (ITV, 8:00pm); Gok Wan takes on the Banker in Celebrity Deal or No Deal (Channel 4, 8:00pm); a night dedicated to Morecambe and Wise begins on digital channel Drama at 8:00pm with Bring Me Morecambe & Wise, followed by biopic Eric & Ernie (9:00pm); Jason Statham stars in The Mechanic (Channel 4, 9:00pm); superb spoof crime series, A Touch of Cloth returns (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); Sandi Toksvig, Jason Manford and Jeremy Clarkson are on the episode of QI which for some reason is being shown over seven months after the J series ended, ‘Just the Job’ (BBC2, 10:00pm); and The Sixth Sense is on Channel 4 at 10:50pm.

Bank Holiday Monday (26th August)

Ultimate Swarms

BBC1, 9:00pm

In this one-off programme, zoologist George McGavin sets off in search of the world’s most impressive swarms.

By meeting bats, bees and everything in between, George aims to discover why swarms are the answer to surviving against the odds, and how we can perhaps adopt the thinking of these animals in order to live our lives easier and better.

Also today: Oscar-winning epic Ben Hur (Channel 4, 11:05am); Doctor Who at the Proms (BBC1, 4:00pm); 2008 film The Incredible Hulk (ITV, 4:20pm); one-off documentary World’s Most Pampered Pets (Channel 5, 6:00pm); Only Connect comes to BBC2 for a week, starting with a ‘Champion of Champions’ special (7:30pm); Hugh Hunt presents Attack of the Zeppelins (Channel 4, 8:00pm); World’s Scariest Animal Attacks is on Channel 5 (8:00pm); Matt Damon stars in The Bourne Identity (ITV, 9:00pm); sci-fi film Independence Day is on Sky1 (10:00pm); and BBC2 is showing Last Chance Harvey (10:30pm).

Tuesday 27th August

My Hero

BBC1, 10:35pm

We’ve already seen Miranda Hart on Eric Morecambe and Hugh Dennis on Ronnie Barker but now it’s time for Death in Paradise star Ben Miller to profile his comedy hero: Tony Hancock.

I’m sure a lot of people won’t be familiar with Tony Hancock’s work. They may have heard his name bandied around a little, but they will likely not appreciate the huge impact he had on British comedy. Tony had huge success from 1954 with his radio series, Hancock’s Half Hour, which also introduced to the public such stars as Hattie Jacques, Sid James and the irrepressible Kenneth Williams. In 1956, Hancock’s Half Hour arrived on television, and became one of the first sitcoms as we know them.

However, Tony also had a tumultuous personal life. He had quite a few mistresses during his 44 year-long life, one of which was his best friend and regular co-star John Le Mesurier’s wife Joan. He also battled depression and alcoholism, all of which led to his suicide by overdose in 1968.

Still, just like so many comics, he kept his demons at bay while he was entertaining the nation, which he did so often – and it is his legacy as a great comedian and angry blood donor (well done if you got that reference) which makes him the perfect hero of Ben Miller’s.

Also today: Protect your ears from the screams – it’s One Direction This Is Us Special (Sky1 HD, 6:00pm); and (no ear-covering required for this one) Michael Scott presents Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show on Earth (BBC4, 9:00pm).

Wednesday 28th August

Martin Luther King and the March on Washington

BBC2, 9:00pm

Narrated by Denzel Washington, this one-off documentary marks the 50th anniversary of Martin  Luther King’s historic March on Washington, which was a hugely important moment in the American Civil Rights'Martin Luther King and the March on Washington'- BBC2, 9:00pm Movement.

Through archive footage and interviews with those who were there and even helped organise it, this programme tells the story of the march: how it faced opposition from the JFK administration and the FBI and how it ultimately helped bring about racial equality in the States.

The BBC’s commemoration of this momentous event, and celebration of Luther King in general, continues after March on Washington, as BBC4 are showing MLK: The Assassination Tapes at 10:00pm.

Also today: Footloose (E4, 8:00pm); Nick Hewer is on Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); after less than a week in the house, one famous face must leave as it’s eviction night on Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); see the best of the Fringe with Comedy Festival Live (BBC3, 9:00pm); Jem Stansfield presents Crash Test Dummy: A Smashing History (BBC4, 9:00pm), which does exactly what is says on the tin; and Prisoner: Cell Block H remake Wentworth Prison comes to Channel 5 (10:00pm).

Thursday 29th August

Celebrity Juice

ITV2, 10:00pm

Is the novelty of Keith Lemon wearing off? That’s something I’ve found myself thinking quite often recently. I mean, Sing If You Can and Keith Lemon’s LemonAid weren’t exactly hits for ITV, were they? Keith Lemon: The Film was widely slated, too (I even found myself criticising it with someone who was interviewing me for a job the other week!) and I got very bored of his ‘autobiography’, Being Keith: How I Got ‘Ere If You Don’t Know How I Got ‘Ere after about the tenth page. Is the sight of Northern Businessman of the Year 1993 getting his ‘tallywacker’ out on primetime ITV2 getting old? I would have to say yes.

Still, when he keeps it in his trousers there are still a lot of laughs to be had with Keith, and with his revival of Through the Keyhole to hit our screens soon, it looks like he’s sticking around for a while. Plus, of course, Celebrity Juice is back, which means more comments about Holly Willoughby’s bangers and Fearne Cotton’s nostrils – which she has kindly brought back with her from maternity leave.

So, prepare for morerer laughs, morerer crudeness and morerer Keith – because it seems that you don’t have any choice.

Also today: Monster Moves is back (Channel 5, 7:00pm); documentary series The Railway: First Great Western begins (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Derren Brown: Svengali is repeated (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and one-off documentary The Man Who Ate Himself to Death (Channel 5, 10:00pm), which follows Ricky Naputi in his final few months.

Friday 30th August

Alan Carr: Chatty Man

Channel 4, 10:00pm

It’s not just Leigh Francis who is going to be sticking around for a while – Alan Carr will be too, as Chatty Man begins its eleventh series, and there’s plenty more to come, as it has also been  commissioned well into next year.

With his effortless style and highly-entertaining, silly demeanour, it really is no surprise that Alan'Alan Carr: Chatty Man' - Channel 4, 10:00pm Carr is Channel 4’s golden boy, is it? Earlier this year, he signed a golden handcuffs deal with the channel, which will see him earn £4million and stay with them until at least 2015. I hope they give him more than just Chatty Man and repeats of his stand-up shows, though. I love seeing him chatting to stars on his sofa but how about something a bit…different for him? I mean, he has started a sitcom pilot but, if his chat with Miranda Hart on the Chatty Man Mash-Up is anything to go by, he found that too difficult and has given up. So what about something like The Friday Night Project or Celebrity Ding Dong? He was brilliant on those and I’m sure a similar show to either would prove very popular. For the time being, though, I’m happy to just enjoy him on Chatty Man.

So, who are his first guests of the series? Well, Rizzle Kicks will be performing their annoyingly catchy song, ‘Lost Generation’, and Lee Evans and Keeley Hawes will be dropping by to talk about their West End comedy, Barking in Essex – and there will likely be chat about Lee’s upcoming tour, Monsters, too.

Also today: Construction Squad: Operation Homefront (Channel 5, 8:00pm) begins by looking at the transformation of an old hospital in Newcastle; Mamma Mia! is on ITV2 – again (8:00pm); Big Fat Gyspy Weddings is back (Channel 4, 9:00pm); another housemate gets the boot in Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); horror film Orphan (More4, 9:00pm); Sara Cox and One Direction members Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles and Niall Horan (who also gets so very slightly naked) are on A League of Their Own (Sky1 HD, 9:00pm); documentary Youssou N’Dour: Voice of Africa, profiling the Senegalese musician, is on BBC4 (9:20pm); there are a few laughs with Seann Walsh in his Late Night Comedy Spectacular (BBC3, 10:00pm); and films The Nutty Professor (ITV2) and The Boat That Rocked (ITV) are on at 10:10pm and 10:45pm, respectively.

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: What Remains – Thanks to BBC and Laurie Sparham, ©BBC; Martin Luther King and the March on Washington – Thanks to BBC, ©NARA/Smoking Dog Films; Alan Carr: Chatty Man – Thanks to Channel 4 and Open Mike Productions.

‘The X Factor’ – Episodes 9.6 & 7

The X Factor 2012 audition process came to a close last weekend, with every last bit of the good, the bad and the tuneless being crammed in. So, let’s not beat around the bush and get straight down to the double-bill’s auditionees.

Nick Bus

I often love to see the more mature person audition for The X Factor – it’s usually terribly sweet to witness someone take to the stage, sticking two fingers up to society’s conventions. I actually wasn’t endeared to Nick Bus, though. I couldn’t help thinking that if a younger auditionee was going on like that – as opposed to this moaning and groaning Victor Meldrew wannabe – there would be a backlash.

Inevitably, he was a bad singer. In fact, he put me in mind of Vic Reeves during the ‘Club Singer’ round on Shooting Stars! Due to his terrible performance, he quite rightly didn’t get through and unlike so many of his aged counterparts, he was lacked grace when faced with rejection.

So you’re wrong, Nick: the reason for your failure wasn’t “that f*cking ‘Tulisia’ [sic]”, it was you’re f*cking singing!

Bianca Gascoigne

I was really rooting Bianca Gascoigne – daughter of Paul – and thought it was brilliant that she came onto X Factor and hadn’t just stuck with the celebrity life, automatically expecting a record deal to come her way just because of her famous dad.

I thought she was okay, but she wasn’t brilliant – as was made clear by the judges’ comments. However, we have seen it before where auditionees have been rejected, and then returned a year or two later and wowed the judges. I think – and hope – Bianca will do this because there’s potential there. In my opinion, anyway.

Tammy Cartwright

Tammy’s got a brilliant voice. Now let’s talk about her nan.

You see, as talented as Tammy is, her nan, May, is the real star, isn’t she? May – a mixture of Joanie from The Catherine Tate Show and one of Harry Enfield & Chums‘ Lovely Wobby Randy Old Ladies – announced she was “as proud as a peacock” to see her granddaughter auditoning. However, her pride was soon taken over by anger when Mel B briefly criticised Tammy, prompting May to flick the ‘V’ sign. It really was hilarious!

However, I suppose my praise is academic as Tammy has now confirmed she has quit The X Factor due to family problems. I hope to see her – and May – back next year.

Jade Collins

Jade came to her audition armed with the biggest of talent show cliches: a sob story. Oh dear.

Granted, the life she’s led because of her dad’s criminality is sad and it will have been emotional him not being there but it just seemed like yet another sad tale to increase her chances of getting through. Perhaps I’m just an old young cynic, though. Anyway, in the event it didn’t matter: Jade’s singing alone was enough to see her through and I wish her luck.

Rough Copy

Seriously, what is the fascination with these three? Yes, they can sing but, to me, they act like irritating prats!

Once again, though, perhaps I’m a cynic – young or old!

Triple J

Gary Barlow was absolutely right – they sounded great! I really liked them and I think they stand out in the Groups category, as, one, we haven’t seen many and, two, we haven’t seen many good ones!

I think Tulisa would rather they were called Triple BJ, though…

Robbie Hance

Robbie has a niche. Admittedly, it’s a niche I’m sure he’d rather not have but it’s there nevertheless.

He’s homeless – a fact which came as quite a shock to the audience and judges alike. Thankfully, though – just like Jade – he didn’t have to rely on a painful life to get him through his audition because he really does have a good voice.

If I’m being completely honest, we’ve heard a lot of people sing in Robbie’s style this series and I think some are better but, given his circumstances, he’s great.

Carolynne Poole

Having been sent packing by a now remorseful Louis Walsh at last year’s Judges’ Houses, Carolynne returned defiantly this year with more wisdom and experience. She blew everyone away (no Tulisa jokes, please) – including myself.

She has an absolutely beautiful voice and you can just tell will go so, so far – if not in this competition but in general. Could this be the Alexandra Burke story all over again? I hope so.

Danielle Scott

Finally we come to Danielle. In her VT before her audition this Liverpudlian wannabe seemed really likeable. First impressions are important, but can be deceiving.

After murdering Adele’s ‘Turning Tables’, with guest judge Geri Halliwell dubbing it “depressing” (to be fair, Geri, it is a downbeat, melancholic song!), she threw a strop. Which reminds me: say, “This X Factor is a joke!”. Done? Now say it in a Scouse accent…sounds funnier, doesn’t it? Now you know how hilarious it was to see Danielle throw her toys out of the pram!

However, that wasn’t the pinnacle of the hilarity she caused, as without a doubt not only my favourite quote of this week’s show, but this year’s series so far (and I would predict of that to come) was:

“I will never come to X Factor again. Never! I’m going on The Voice next time.”

Even if that’s as good as this year’s X Factor gets, I’m satisfied!

So the auditions are now over and it just remains to see how our favourites will get on at Boot Camp tomorrow. The talent has been brilliant this year and it will surely get better – an exciting prospect!

In the meantime, though, who’s been your favourite? Tweet me @UKTVReviewer or comment on this post.

Also, keep up-to-date with the latest TV news, reviews and interviews at, where some of my articles will also appear.

‘The X Factor’ – Episode 9.3

The X Factor – which, as well as shedding viewers, seems to be lampooning itself more and more as the weeks go on – reached the third episode of its ninth run this week.


Despite many clearly not being so, I am quite impressed with the hopefuls this year. Of course, as I’ve said before, I didn’t watch the previous series but it seems that this series has seen the best performers in a long while – and the audition process isn’t even over yet!

Having said this, I  really would like to see more groups. We definitely haven’t been presented with as many – if any – this year, have we? After Little Mix’s success last time around, you’d think Simon Cowell would have bombarded us with them! At this rate, poor Louis will be worrying about his job…

So, to these brilliant auditionees I alluded to. This week was one of those very rare ones, whether it be in The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, where we actually see more successful performers than deluded ones. And boy, were there a lot of successful singers this week:

Nicola Marie

When she opened her mouth and didn’t bloody shut it for ten minutes, I thought Nicola would be more suited to Loose Women than The X Factor (I would describe her as a more talkative and excitable Jodie Prenger, if you can imagine such a thing) but she had an okay voice. It wasn’t brilliant by any means but it was okay. Also, whilst being true to her personality, the dancing – as Gary would concur – was a tad extreme and…daring.  I was just about to write that I doubt she’ll get past Boot Camp but then again, it happened with Jedward…and Wagner…and Leon Jackson!

Alison Brunton

Oh my God. Usually the ‘bad’ auditions are entertaining and amusing but this ‘bad’ one – and it was ‘bad’ – just saddened me. Firstly, it was sad for Alison herself: aged 51, she just wanted one last shot at the big time which made me feel a little sorry for her. However, my sympathy soon waned when I saw her teenage son and daughter looking mortified at their mother’s attempts at singing. Why put your kids through that embarrassment? They had clearly been forced or bribed into attending the audition that day and their humiliation was all too palpable as they stood backstage with Dermot and confessed to him that they would rather have been anywhere in the world but there at that moment. Seeing Alison’s daughter’s misery broke my heart: how could she put her own daughter through that? If my mam did that, I…oh it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Joseph Whelan

Joseph’s style of singing is something I can’t recall having heard on The X Factor before – it’s popular at the moment in the music world and I’m sure will stand him in good stead on the show. Plus, his little boy is so cute!

Melanie Masson

This likeable fairy (don’t ask) – and wife of actor Forbes Masson – did extremely well in her audition, gaining high praise from all judges and the audience. Now…I thought she was quite good but I certainly wasn’t as impressed as the judging panel or the arena crowd. I just think she screams an awful lot, rather than singing. Unfortunately, I don’t find it to be tuneful screaming either. I wish her luck, though – she clearly has competence.

Jake Quickenden

I thought Jake had good vocals. Once again, they weren’t astounding but he undoubtedly has talent, that’s for sure! I have to confess that I found the audition and his rendition of Kings of Leon’s  ‘Need Somebody’ a little boring but maybe that’s just me. After all, what do I know? I’m just one of the very few viewers…

Twitter – @UKTVReviewer

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‘The X Factor’ – Episode 9.2

After news of falling ratings last week, The X Factor soldiered on last night into the second episode of its ninth series.


Just before I get onto this week’s auditionees, I’d like to take a quick census. Who dislikes the audition process being mixed up when broadcast on TV? Last week, we saw Nicole Scherzinger and then guest judge Mel B, then this week we met guest Rita Ora, then Mel again, and then back to Nicole! What’s wrong with showing one city’s auditions in one episode, then another city’s in the next, and so on? Add to this the fact that when they are showing a particular city’s auditions – take Newcastle for example – they mix up the days! One minute, you’re seeing Day One in Newcastle, then Day Two, and then we’re back to the first Day again! The hair changes, the wardrobe changes…it’s just so annoying. Well, for me at least.


Anyway, now that I’ve jumped off of my soapbox and ended my rant, I can get back to reviewing this week’s X Factor action. Having already been introduced to Mel B and Nicole Scherzinger last week, the new guest judge this week was ‘RIP’ and ‘How We Do’ singer Rita Ora. She was quite an entertaining judge, I found – I was quite surprised.

However, earlier this week I watched a repeat of The Talent Show Story on ITV1, during which the issue of the modern trend for ‘celebrities’ as opposed to ‘behind-the-scenes experts’ as judges was brought up. For example, on Pop Idol, the panel was made up of; PR expert and manager Nicki Chapman; Stock and Aitken’s partner Pete Waterman; DJ Neil Fox and, of course, then relatively unknown music producer Simon Cowell. Therefore, perhaps bar Foxy, the judges weren’t pre-established ‘celebrities’. They worked behind-the-scenes in the industry so knew what a star was made-up of. All I’m saying is, perhaps we need more of this on modern talent shows. I’m not for one minute saying that Nicole and Tulisa, Rita and all of those people aren’t qualified judges and don’t have the credentials to fulfil their roles but look at Louis Walsh – manager of Westlife and Boyzone but only came to prominence as a judge on Popstars: he was an industry expert, too. I enjoy watching the ‘celebrity’ and ‘pop star’ judges but maybe it’s time to put a new music producer into the limelight…

Anyhow, the judges aren’t – and shouldn’t be – the main focus of The X Factor. That title goes to the contestants. ‘The Good, The Bad and The Angry’, as Peter Dickson put it this week, are the ones who really make this show and this week there was quite a few of them successful.

Rylan Clark

Let’s begin with Rylan, eh? He started off in his VTs by portraying himself as quite narcissistic and vain – it got me thinking that maybe he could be the male equivalent of Amy Childs? As well as having something of the David Guetta about him (well, in my eyes, anyway), he brought something quite different to The X Factor: an Ibiza party atmosphere. It would have been quite easy for him to take to the stage poorly equipped vocally and just jump, wave his arms and scream. He didn’t do that, though. Instead, he was reasonably equipped and had some attributes such as likeability: the judges immediately warmed to him…except Gary, who didn’t think he was very good at singing at all. I can sort of see where Mr. Barlow was coming from but I genuinely believe that if Rylan takes up the singing lessons which Rita suggested, he could be a good performer. A finalist, though? I doubt it.

Kye Sones

This cockney chimney sweep was surprising! I didn’t think he would be up to much but he actually had brilliant vocals, singing a version of guest judge Rita’s hit ‘RIP’. I really could picture him on an album cover, I can imagine hearing him on the radio, I can see him as just what Rita dubbed him: “a superstar”. She’s right – the judges will be fighting to mentor him.

Lucy Spraggan

I became really worried when Lucy Spraggan revealed backstage that she was going to perform a comedy song. Comedians seldom succeed on Britain’s Got Talent so how was one going to work on The X Factor – a show exclusively for singers, and not used to comedy? The answer to that question: very well. I saw her as Victoria Wood without the piano but couldn’t help thinking she would in fact be more suited to a show like BGT. Clearly, however, I was wrong as Lucy’s amusing self-penned song about waking up on a Sunday morning, following a previous night’s heavy drinking, earned her a standing-ovation from the arena audience. This overwhelming reaction led to another of those bloody irritating hashtags popping up in the bottom right-hand corner of my screen – the title of Lucy’s song: ‘Beer Fear’. I didn’t mind, though, because #BeerFear was the only one of the many X Factor hashtags which I have actually wanted to tweet.


The auditions then rolled into Newcastle. Now, I’m from Sunderland so for me it was great to see The X Factor, after six long years, return to the North East of England (or the North West, according to Louis). I’m just gutted I didn’t get to go and am envious of a friend who did…and met Gary!

With the Newcastle auditions came an hilarious representation of us North Eastern folk. Yes, we’re eccentric and talk gobbledygook a lot of the time but don’t let that put you off – we mean no harm, I assure you!

Billy Moore

Oh, Billy! What on earth happened? You may not have been able to get past the first note but we enjoyed your appearance, nevertheless – it entertained us. Oh, and thanks for providing my Tulisa Joke of the Week when you said this:

“Me sister, she made us some chicken sandwiches. Eeh, they were lovely, mind: went down a treat.”

Thanks, mate.

Sophie Stokle

Turning up with her mam, dad and an auntie who looked like Dorien from Birds of a Feather, Sophie was full of confidence but didn’t quite impress the judges with her over-the-top rendition of Jennifer Hudson’s ‘Love You I Do’. Am I the only one who saw potential, though? I wholeheartedly believe that if she calms down a little, she could do well. I hope she’ll be back next year, wiser.

James Arthur

J. Arthur. His parents didn’t really think it through, did they? Nevertheless, James didn’t live up to what his name suggests and was actually quite good. I thought the judges went a little to town on their comments (I wasn’t quite as impressed as they were) but then again, they are the experts. Reuniting his parents, James’s audition did have an element of Surprise, Surprise! to it but never mind – if we look beyond that, I’m sure we’ll all agree that he has talent.

And isn’t that the main thing?

Twitter – @UKTVReviewer
Also, keep up-to-date with the latest TV news, reviews and interviews at, where some of my articles will also appear.

‘The X Factor’ – Episode 9.1

It’s time to face the music once again – The X Factor is back and, as it’s always billed, bigger than ever!


Now, I watched only a couple of episodes of the eighth series last year but then lost interest – it was the first time since 2007 I’d missed an episode! I think I stopped watching not because of the new judges themselves but because Simon was missing. It happened with Britain’s Got Talent and so it did with last year’s The X Factor, if we believed what we read in the papers: the show went downhill with the absence of a certain Mr. Cowell. Also, I suppose I couldn’t bear to watch another second of Frankie Coccozza. This year, however, I decided to forgive Gary, Tulisa, Louis and return to what is, let’s face it, one of the many jewels in ITV’s crown.


So, how did last night’s introduction to the ninth year of searching for a singing superstar begin? Need you even ponder for a second? Of course, it was with the usual dramatic montage looking back at previous successes (One Direction, JLS, you know – all of the runners-up) and ahead to this year’s talent. And that is the key wordtalent. It seems that Cowell and co. have seen fit to do what they tragically did with another of ITV’s jewels, Britain’s Got Talent, by packing it full with mini fly-on-the-wall VTs which apparently depict the typical home- or work-life of the auditionees which do nothing except irritate me. I’m watching a talent show – I want to see auditions, be the contestants in them successful or otherwise, not these palpably staged thirty second films giving us a snapshot of the hopefuls’ oh-so-interesting lives. If I want to see that, I’ll put ITV2 on and watch Peter Andre…or even Keith Lemon!

Likewise, those annoying hashtags which sum-up each act are back, having already popped up on Britain’s Got Talent every five minutes earlier this year. They’re not even funny! They’re so pointless they put Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman to shame! In fact, would anyone actually tweet those hashtags if Simon Cowell wasn’t instructing us to? I know I wouldn’t, and I’m usually a sucker for things like that.


I do have other content complaints but I’ll save those for next week, else I’ll have nothing to write about. So, we move onto the judges. Permanent fixture Louis Walsh is still there, proudly claiming he’s the longest standing judge and has always been on the show (clearly having erased part of 2007 when he was sacked by Cowell from the show). Another proclamation of Walsh’s in his introduction was “Forget about the rest: The X Factor is the only show in town that can find real stars that can sell records worldwide.” Two words, Louis: Susan Boyle.

Actually, while we’re on the subject, the judges’ introductions were so dramatically over-the-top and clichéd that it reminded me of Peter Kay’s talent show spoof Britain’s Got The Pop Factor… – sadly they just seemed to be a nod to The X Factor becoming a bit of a parody of itself. Anyway, of course, Gary Barlow was back and on fine, cutting yet constructively critical form, as was Tulisa who I have actually been endeared to since the scandal – I think she handled it well then and has continued to by respectably just grasping the nettle and carrying on her judging duties. According to Dermot, Tulisa is “The girl everyone’s talking about…” Yeah, I wonder why? The new addition to the panel was Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, the successor of sickie-pulling Kelly Rowland who stayed for only last year’s series. Nicole didn’t make much of an impression on me – she didn’t seem to shine and I almost forgot she was there due to Gary and Louis being the much more prominent members of the panel. She might come into her own in a few weeks, though – let’s see…


Nicole wasn’t on the panel for the duration of the episode, though: we were also…treated…to Spice Girl Melanie B putting in an appearance. I thought I would find Mel entertaining but I didn’t – at all. She was purely and simply far too harsh. I’m not talking Cowell or Lythgoe harsh, either! Even her fellow judges seemed bored with Mel’s act. I say “act” because that’s what it most probably was – something done wholly for attention (which, admittedly I’m giving her). I can only guess that she behaved this way because she’s not a permanent judge so isn’t going to go on to mentor any of the acts, meaning that she couldn’t let herself be instantly forgettable and had to make her mark…in such a horrible way. She was even quite nasty to 82 year-old Louis Dilke, who treated the audience to a sweet rendition of Adele’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’. Now, Louis didn’t have star quality (the contestant, that is, not the judge. Although..) but the whole panel decided quite rightly to be nice to Mr. Dilke and commend him on his determination and ability to move everyone. Well, when I say “the whole panel”, I am of course excluding Mel B who simply said that the performance “made her want to go to sleep”. There’s a thing called tact, Mel – I suggest you grab a dictionary and look it up.

And now, we come to the real stars of the show: the contestants. Be they good or bad, they’re the true reason we count down the days until the show returns and then tune in week after week. Here were some of my favourites, and not all for the right reasons:

Sheyi Omotayo

I actually took an instant dislike to Sheyi – he just seemed too cocky, desperately trying to be charming and funny. Then again, that’s what I thought of Olly Murs when I first saw him so it’s not necessarily an indicator of poor vocals. In Sheyi’s case, though, it was. He sang ‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong but merely sounded like a tribute act – without the singing ability. Actually, his voice seemed to give the impression that he had something stuck in his throat…feel free to add your own Tulisa jokes here.

Zoe Alexander

Next, we have Zoe Alexander. P!nk impersonator by day, delusional by night. “P!nk’s my favourite singer so I decided to have my hair cut like P!nk,” she claimed. I actually thought it was more of an Emeli Sandé style but never mind. Less than two minutes later we saw her telling a fellow auditionee, “Doing P!nk’s amazing, I love it, but it’s a day job – this is a career. I want to be Zoe.” Hmm…okay..but didn’t you just say…oh, too late to ask – she’s on the stage. So what is her song? Oh, actually, I was right – ‘So What?’ is her song. To clarify, that’s ‘So What?’…by P!nk. Unimpressed and just as confused about her motives as I was, the judges asked her to sing another song, so what did she sing this time? AN EMELI SANDÉ TUNE! I knew that hair was versatile! To cut a long story short, the judges didn’t like that song either, Zoe went into a strop, threw her microphone, starting calling the judges all of the names under the sun and then assaulted a camera and its operator. Classy. It’s a shame that an even partially potentially talented singer proved to be a baby. Still, it doesn’t bother me and I’m sure it doesn’t bother anyone else: it was her chance and she blew it!

Curtis Golden

Now we come to a more talented and down-to-earth performer. A very excited Curtis Golden took to the stage and made it abundantly clear to all of the judges – and Mel B, too, who he had the pleasure of being present at his audition – that he’s a huge Spice Girls fan, so much so that at home he apparently has a life-size cut-out of Mel B doing her high-kicks in Spiceworld, the Spice Girls movie. Curtis then proceeded to get on his guitar, get in front of the microphone and do his brilliant stuff. He was fantastic! He performed his own version of Chistina Aguilera’s ‘Candy Man’. Now, I love ‘Candy Man’ but Curtis’s version was something else! You could see immediately that he could go far. Therefore, I was just as shocked as the judges – if not more so – when Mel B claimed she “found it a little bit irritating”, ditto with the whole ‘comedic personality’ at the beginning. Oh, so she doesn’t like singers who exude personality and force that upon people? Sounds a bit hypercritical, doesn’t it? I wonder if Posh, Sporty, Baby and Ginger will agree with Scary Spice?

Ella Henderson

My favourite audition of the night, though, was immediately likeable sixteen-year-old Ella Henderson. She was talented beyond description. This is the first series of The X Factor in which auditionees can actually sing one of their own self-penned songs and thank God, else Ella might not have shone as much as she did last night. It was phenomenal – she indeed sang “a song she wrote herself” and completely blew me away! That song was just so heartfelt and genuine, it could easily have been written and sang by Adele (it in fact seemed to be along the same lines as ‘Someone Like You’). When she finished her song, I just smiled and looked at my TV in disbelief – I can only imagine what it was like to be in the arena that day to hear those vocals live. Many people nowadays complain about modern acts not writing their own material but here we have someone who’s only my age, writes lyrics and then sings them – and does it bloody well! A dead cert for the Live Shows, I think.

And there we have it – week one of the ninth (!) series of The X Factor done. I think it’s safe to say that – unlike last year – I won’t be switching off.

Twitter – @UKTVReviewer