Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor. Saturday night’s all right for fighting

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Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor. Saturday night’s all right for fighting

September 07, 2016 - 13:44
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Welcome to TV’s thrilling annual Saturday night ratings war. In the BBC corner… Strictly Come Dancing. Yay. In the ITV corner… The X Factor. Woohoo. Let’s get ready to rumble. Again.

Strictly Come Dancing versus The X Factor

Welcome to TV’s thrilling annual Saturday night ratings war. In the BBC corner… Strictly Come Dancing. Yay. In the ITV corner… The X Factor. Woohoo. Let’s get ready to rumble. Again.

A pervasive lack of excitement as Strictly’s 15 minor celebs were paired with their pro-partners amid widespread national apathy. Every year the Beeb makes a big deal of who gets to tango with whom even though the viewers couldn’t care less. We just want to see Ed Balls fall over.

“Yessss!!!” scream all the contestants when they find out which poor sap they’ll be clinging onto for dear life over the next few turbulent weeks. By an extraordinary coincidence, they all get exactly the one they secretly wanted. It’s tradition. Part of the phoney pageant.

“I’m so happy!” shrieked footballer’s wife Louise Redknapp after she landed Kevin Clifton. “I’m really happy!” replied Kev. Repeat 15 times and call it a show.

Birds Of A Feather veteran Lesley Joseph drew the short straw and got stuck with perennial loser Anton du Beke. Therefore, she’s doomed. Mind you, Lesley’s getting on a bit so she never stood a chance anyway. First rule of Strictly… the oldsters don’t last.

But at the end of the 90 minute launch spectacular a memorable moment as former Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed ballsed up the opening group routine on an epic scale and took dad dancing to a whole new low level. He is to ballroom what Ann Widdecombe is to – er – ballroom.

Poor Ed’s a left leaning politician with two left feet. Hilariously bad. Stand by for disaster. Excellent. Lumbered with this year’s laughing stock, Katya Jones didn’t seem too disappointed. She’s not going to make the final… but she’ll make the front pages week after woeful week. Publicity’s the name of the game.

From the terrible comedy sketches – that Star Wars opening segment was excruciating – to the “joodges” (copyright Tess Daly) playing their pantomime parts to perfection, the Beeb’s never-changing jigathon is a predictable affair. But it’s a stunning, super-slick production that sticks rigidly to a winning formula. And the punters love it.

Meanwhile, over on ITV’s karaoke capers they were subjecting us to couple of gay guys who’d had a row about undercooked chicken. Hard to imagine anything more uninteresting. Or less entertaining.

After about ten torturous minutes Simon Cowell and his merry panellists persuaded Ottavio Columbro (dressed as a toy) and sequin-spattered Bradley Hunt (rhyming slang) to settle their differences and perform their audition. Inevitably, they were sensationally dreadful. Even more inevitably, they were through to the next round. Jedward without the laughs.

The whole sorry sequence was a blatantly-choreographed embarrassment. So stage-managed it hurt. A decade or so of more rehearsals and it might have been vaguely convincing. Do the string-pulling producers really believe they’re getting away with these obvious charades?

Things you never hear on The X Factor. “Singing is my dream, I’m a nuclear physicist.” Or: “I do a bit of brain surgery but music means everything to me.” First rule of Uncle Simon’s circus… all the wannabes have dead end jobs. Or they’re unemployed. This programme is an abyss of desperation for no-hopers to disappear into.

If you really want to hit the spot, don’t have a job but do have a nan. Full marks to Bromley boy Matt Terry for bringing his unglamorous granny along. Who, like all women who are prepared to pretend that the vainglorious Mr Cowell is devastatingly attractive, got a lot of screen time.

Of her beloved grandson, Old Ma Biddy (I forgot her real name. Instantly.) gushed: “He’s always been – I shouldn’t say this – the apple of my eye.” Why shouldn’t she say that? In the background, Terry’s father wept copiously. What’s wrong with these people?

Naturally, when smitten Liverpool couple Tom and Laura sang a nice duet, Cowell tried to split them up. He does this sort of thing around three times a series. No one knows why.

Insisting that he wouldn’t abandon the girl he makes beautiful music with, Tom looked resplendent in his “Original 90” shirt. Which I assumed was a reference to the size of his waistline.

Of course, there was yet another of those returning heroes who, stupidly, refuse to give up. This one fell foul of the six chair challenge in 2014. Some Irish girl called Janet who doesn’t realise she’s guaranteed to fail again. They never learn.

And a weirdo living doll named Sada Vidoo who’s a major star in Denmark. If that’s not a contradiction in terms. Neglecting to mention she’s had hit records all over the world, platinum-selling Sada squealed: “I’m a doll and I don’t have no age.” But if she did have an age, we’d be talking mid-60s.

As always, we also endured four multi-millionaires ridiculing tone deaf dorks who delude themselves they have talent. Particularly in Dublin where a succession of pathetic fall-guys were humiliated while cruel Cowell and his goading gang laughed at them like playground bullies.

But a touching family interlude when Simon’s son Eric turned up… and they played Daddy Cool. Cool? A man who refers to girls as “chicks”? Hardly. He’s about as cool as Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne. The gruesome twosome who came back from the dead. By unpopular demand.

Anyway, for those who, like me, have had enough of this seen-it-all-before dross, there may be some solace in the fact that Strictly will waltz all over The X Factor. But not me. Because I don’t like Strictly much either. It’s ballroom dancing for God’s sake! I’m a bloke.

But while Cowell’s middle-of-the-road amateur pop contest can get horribly samey, at least the great man himself attempts to inject a much needed spot of variety with his wide-ranging vocabulary.

And he’s off: “Honest to God, Louis, I don’t know why I’m here.” Minutes later: “Honest to God, none of them can sing.” Minutes later again: “Honest to God, Louis, I’ve had some crazy days in my life – and bad days – but this is up there.”

Honest to God, I’ve had a gutful of this tedious tosh. Pass the remote. Click.