X Factor 2011 Premiere Review: X Marks The Spot

X FACTOR: Saturday 20th August, ITV1, 8pm

Now entering its eighth series is Simon Cowell’s infamous no-talent contest. Oh, the contestants have talent, there’s no doubt about that, but even if they win The X Factor it rarely gets them anywhere. How many can you remember? Leona, JLS (who didn’t even win), at a push, Alexandra Burke? That’s after seven years, and quite literally millions of contestants. Let’s not beat around the bush, The X Factor is about The X Factor, it’s not about music, never was, never will be. Which is great, because taken purely as a TV show, it’s exceptional.

This year’s premiere carries on the age old X Factor tradition of humiliating the freaks and elevating the talented. There’s a middle aged Chinese woman who is so nervous she’s been throwing up for the twelve leading up to her audition. However, her performance is anything but timid – she stripper-dances around the stage and proceeds to give each judge a lap dance, paying particular attention to Gary, and wrapping her legs around his neck. Of course she can’t sing, but she sure is entertaining. Gary – the new Simon – says no, the other three put her through because “She’s entertainingâ€?.

There’s Janet, a 16-year-old girl with wild wavy blonde hair from a desolate village in Northern Ireland, whose angelic voice is complimented by her incredible shyness. Already a bookies’ favourite, no doubt. A seemingly schizophrenic 26-year-old woman, who, to be fair can sing, and gets four yeses, but is incredibly annoying – she begins signing autographs on her way out – you can read the regret across the judges’ faces once she’s told she’s going through and completely flips her personality.

Then there’s a familiar face from the past, George, who after getting rejected threw a tantrum and swore a lot. He says he’s back this year to “clear my nameâ€? and show that “I’m not that clown you saw in 2009â€?. He failed on both counts, calling Tulisa a “silly c***â€? before being escorted off stage. There’s the usual cheeky chappy in the form of Frankie, an 18-year-old just back from a season in Malaga with seven girls’ names tattooed on his bum, which he proves by showing the entire audience. “What are you going to do when you’re an old man and your grandkids ask you what those names are for on your bum?â€? Gary asks. To which Frankie replies, “Why would my grandkids be looking at my bum?â€? He gets four yeses.

It’s worth mentioning Gary Barlow, he has a big role to fill and is doing a fantastic job of it. He’s even more cutting than Simon, but you can tell he’s not just doing it for effect, he’s extremely honest and it’s great to see this side of the UK’s “Mr Cleanâ€?. The X Factor is as entertaining as ever, and you’d have to be extremely strong-willed to avoid getting caught up in this year’s furore.