The X Factor. The chaotic cruelty of the Six Chair Challenge

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The X Factor. The chaotic cruelty of the Six Chair Challenge

September 28, 2016 - 10:18
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Of the many deceptions that The X Factor treats us to year after duplicitous year, the funniest is that this is a show that’s all about success. It’s not. Failure is the key.

Nicole and Simon

Of the many deceptions that The X Factor treats us to year after duplicitous year, the funniest is that this is a show that’s all about success. It’s not. Failure is the key.

Of the thousands of desperate hopefuls who join those filmic queues dreaming of stardom, a maximum of two or three will end up with a weird approximation of Z-list fame. The rest trudge back to the obscurity for which they were designed grateful for the chance to return to shelf-stacking.

It’s the losers not the winners who make up the bulk of every tear-stained series. While they cry, we sit at home and laugh. That’s entertainment. And that’s why Simon Cowell’s karaoke capers continue to flourish.

Naturally, the manipulative producers do their best to disguise this unsavoury truth, droning on about “changing lives” (yawn) and assuring all the wide eyed idiots that they too could be the next One Direction or Leona Lewis. And for the most part, millions of viewers buy this not-so-little white lie.

But now and again they let the façade slip and we get to see the dark heart beating at the centre of ITV’s annual bun-fight. And nowhere is there a better view of the nastiness than during the chaotically cruel Six Chair Challenge.

Spread out over two torturous nights, the most horrible four hours of television you will ever see. A demonic game of musical chairs during which the wannabes were made to beg for their survival as the four patronising panellists sat in judgement like gormless gods in world gone mad.

When your future is in ludicrous Louis Walsh’s hands it’s time to take a long hard look at the way your life is panning out… and make a few drastic changes. Fast.

Anyway, I don’t really care which of the bland bunch got through to the next round. All of them have about as much star quality as an earthworm. Series 13 is a charisma-free zone.

But I did vaguely notice some contrived nonsense involving macho duo Bradley and Ottavio. Walsh pretending he rejected them before sensationally changing his mind. He should have stuck with kicking them out. They’re crap.

Old fashioned to the bottom of its end-of-the-pier soul, The X Factor has always clung to the outmoded belief that high camp gay men are unbelievably hilarious. Carry On Cowell thinks this terrible tone deaf twosome will be the darlings of the finals. They won’t be because they’re disastrously dull. They’re not only crap… they’re boring.

Back on the stage-managed stage of doom the emotionally overawed contestants were jumping for joy after Simon or Louis or Nicole or that ridiculous Sharon biddy had just told them to – drum roll - “take a chair”. Moments later they were sobbing because someone better had come along and they were told to take a hike.

“Please, please, please,” they all pleaded as their journey ended in despair. “Don’t send me home.” Shut up and weep for the cameras! Some of them are so stupid they’ll be back next year for more of the same. Cannon fodder for a ruthless programme that shamelessly exploits delusional fools with about as much chance of singing for a living as I have.

In case you didn’t notice, while Cowell and his cackling gang played the evil chair game, Strictly Come Dancing began in earnest on BBC1. Ratings for The X Factor… 7million. Ratings for Strictly…. 8.6million. And the moral of this story is, I suppose, that the Beeb’s harmless jigathon is far more likeable. Ballroom wins again.


There are 2 Comments

Caroline Dowse's picture

The circus that is The X Factor continues, and this week it was the return of The Six Chair Challenge. I didn't see Saturday's episode, but I can imagine how it went: lots of contestents crying as they either miss out or get turfed out of a seat in favour of someone even more bland, Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger pretending to look pained as they try and decide which of the lacklustre hopefuls should go through to Judges Houses.

The Six Chair Challenge is one many reasons that X Factor is going down the pan, but there is another obvious one.

Louis Walsh.

On Sunday night, Louis and living waxwork Sharon Osbourne, who've been lumbered with the duff categories of the Groups and Overs, had to make their all important decisions. It took Sharon a whole tedious hour before she picked her final six - and then it was Louis' turn.

Uncle Louis was really enjoying himself out there. He gave a chair to anyone who came onto the stage: dull Irish boyband - chair, boring teenage twins - chair, mad German father and daughter duo - chair. I half expected him to give one to the soundman. A chair, that is. Ahem.

"You've only got one chair left," Simon told him after the first five acts.

"I know," Louis beamed.

Louis knows he's not going to win, so he doesn't give a stuff. He knows his place, and that's mentoring the novelty acts, like the godawful Bradley and Ottavio. That's probably why Cowell brought him back.

Oh yes, Bradley and Ottavio. They were the victims of the most shameful manipulation of the night. They turned up dressed in tinfoil and gave one of the most tone deaf performances I've ever heard. Naturally, they got a seat. But then, Louis did something truly shocking. He dumped them in favour of a forgettable girlband. The other judges were horrified.

"I think you've made a mistake," Simon said.

"They bring spice," agreed Nicole. For 'spice', read 'ratings.'

This was all completely spontaneous, of course. After a few moments of indecision, Louis brought the Bacofoil Boys back and ditched another act instead. This is why viewers are deserting The X Factor in droves. Everybody is sick of being manipulated by sob stories and made up arguments amongst the couldn't-care-less judges. Remember when The X Factor could pull in 10million-plus viewers? Now they can only dream of a return to those days.

Maybe that's why ITV have bought The Voice - in preparation for The X Factor's inevitable demise.

The best thing they could do is put it out of it's misery now for the sake of the show, the viewers and anyone who risks being mentored by Louis Walsh.

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

Well, we have all given up on this now tiresome rubbish. They are really not interested in changing peoples lives when they really CAN sing (remember Lucy Jones) but it's all about making money as when the live shows are on they wait for the producers to tell them who to vote for as they know who's making them the money - allegedly of course !!! SHAMBOLIC.