Somewhere, Over The X Factor
When 'serious' newspapers cover popular culture it usually ends in tears. So when Mark Lawson in The Guardian writes about The X Factor and says that Louis Walsh is the 'acerbic one' of the judges, you wonder if he's ever watched it for more than five minutes.
Then the same paper's TV previewer says that Journey South are the 'noughties' version of Bros'. Now you could compare the soporific Journey South to any one of hundreds of pub duos but you'd have to be very pissed indeed to compare them to Bros. (Actually, Bros, for their first two or three records, were very good and almost gave dross a good name so I suppose it's a compliment).
Most people agree that this year's X Factor was the best of this genre of talent show so far. I thought there was a slight hiatus between the auditions and the live finals when it almost became the Z Factor and the judges' shenanigans got a bit out of hand but the overall standard was very high.
My own preference kept changing but by the final few weeks I'd decided that Shane, the winner, had a unique and extraordinary talent that could well eclipse the success of the splendid Will Young.
His final song last night was 'Over the Rainbow', a song I've always detested.
No, really. My mother said that as a small child, if it came on the radio, I would put my fingers in my ears and scream. So you can stick all that 'friends of Dorothy' bollocks up your Yellow Brick Road. But last night, for the first time and thanks to Shane Ward, I enjoyed it.
It doesn't get any more high risk than re-interpreting a classic song in a talent show final on live television in front of millions of people. To have failed would have been the ultimate in car crash television. To have succeeded so spectacularly deserves some kind of medal in addition to that recording contract. Shane seemed to squeeze all the saccharine out of that wretched song and replace it with genuine emotion. The beginning was under-stated but built to some vocal pyrotechnics that, spookily, caused my power to flicker and the cable box to switch itself off. Happily, I was able to get my TV picture back before he finished.
I don't know about the tabloids because I don't read them but the programme itself kept Shane's married status very quiet until last night, presumably for fear of alienating both teenage girls and gay men, thought to be significant elements of his fan base. Heterosexuality - the love that dare not speak its name.
I'd love to see a breakdown of the viewing demographic of X Factor. It has always seemed to me that a lot of teenagers would be in the early stages of binge-drinking at that time on a Saturday and a lot of acts must make it to the final rounds on the strength of the Granny vote. And the odious Chico was apparently very popular with children which may have helped him survive for so long.
X Factor is one of the few shows on television where viewers can see the autocue. Because it's positioned in the middle of the audience, the type has to be enormous so that Kate Thornton can read it without the help of binoculars. Sometimes it was possible to read the words before she actually spoke them and observe how the scriptwriters aim for a conversational style that sounds improvised. A rather pointless labour when your words are displayed to ten million people in letters a foot high.
Confusing Casting, No 67:
Within the space of a week, John Woodvine will have appeared as the father of both Doc Martin and PC Tony Stamp in The Bill. From Cornwall to Sun Hill.......he certainly puts it about a bit, that John Woodvine.