Remote Control: Saturday September 06, 2014

Mr Saturday Night back on his throne

Saturday, 6th September 2014, 8:00 am

All hail the return of Simon Cowell! The uber-judge, the top dog, the boss man – yep, the king of the high-waisted trouser is back to head up the judging panel on the new series of The X Factor (ITV1 Saturday).

And not at all because the show flopped miserably in the US. Nope, definitely not, it was entirely his choice to come back to the UK version. Funnily enough, in among the ludicrously amped-up series opener last Saturday, there wasn’t a single mention of that in among all the montages of tabloid headlines and the massed ranks of the deluded and deranged waiting for the chance to audition.

In a sequence full of bloated self importance, Cowell declares that it’s ‘a job so important I had to come home.’ Pull the other one, mate.

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The audition stages used to be the most enjoyable, purely for the joy of seeing a genuine talent for the first time, or those blind to how woefully inept they truly are. Not any more – there’s not a single thing about this show that’s not contrived.

Opening act, sisters Blonde Electric were sublimely terrible – their personalities grated, their voices were painful. Cowell set out his stall by accurately describing them as being like ‘nails on a blackboard,’ but still voted to put them through.

Funnily enough, new judge and former Spice Girl Mel B agreed with her new paymaster, as did ever present Louis Walsh, while, gasp, Cheryl (no-longer-Cole) Fernandez-Versini disagreed. But three ‘yeses’ saw them advance.

It’s nice to see they’re aiming high – to creating the new Jedward.

There was further proof that Ed Sheeran has an awful lot to answer for, as the massed ranks of mopey male strummers took turns in getting shot down.

There are tears, there are tantrums, there are sob stories, there are the auditionees who persist even when the panel are clearly laughing at them, and in one case have all walked off apart from Cowell.

And there are returning contestants, as well as some lining up for auditions who are not quite the inexperienced ingenues they appear, if reports elsewhere are to be believed.

The crass emotional machinations are still painfully obvious.

But never is a truer word said than when Cowell tells one auditionee: ‘It doesn’t matter what the others think.’

The other three judges really are window dressing in the Simon Cowell Show – except for some nauseating scenes celebrating everyone’s favourite toilet attendant-bashing Geordie. There was even a frightening glimpse of the future for Cheryl when one middle-aged lady turned up in one of her outfits and sang her number one single, Fight For This Love.

Chris Broom