Thirty-one wasted weekend nights down and we’re at Wembley Arena for the live final.
What then, if anything, can we take away from the grimmest series yet of X Factor, which celebrated its 10th anniversary fittingly on its landmark nine years, two months and 19 days birthday?
Apart from earplugs and a deep sense of regret, obviously.
Well, quite a lot.
Strumming an acoustic guitar has been elevated to the status of “bravery”.
The Flash Vote (RIP, 12/10/13 - 26/10/13) and Sharon Osbourne’s return proved gloriously disastrous.
And, above all, we’ll know not to bother tuning in if there’s no comedy act in next year’s live shows.
The only moment of levity came when Xtra Factor no-show Osbourne did her melted Wicked Witch of the West impression by leaving her shoes on the desk.
But the dullest ever final – eclipsing 2007’s Leon Jackson v Rhydian v Same Difference – caps a series doomed to safe mediocrity when they ditched that yodelling tool at Bootcamp.
It’s been mirrored by judges’ comments like: “Luke, you’re very consistent,” and, “Nicholas, you’re so dependable,” and Dermot O’Leary reading out an Ed Balls tweet.
Solitary potential pop star Tamera Foster bit the dust the moment she finally managed not to give the subtitle writers a night off by remembering her lyrics.
Then the fate of Rough Copy, the only mildly edgy act left (and I’m being hugely generous there), was sealed by a panel who resolutely refuse to make the decisions for which they’re paid a fortune, passing the buck back to the public vote.
That left foregone conclusion winner Sam Bailey, Louis Walsh’s “little Johnny Depp” Luke Friend who Nicole Scherzinger called a “rare breed” (a bergamasco sheepdog – Google image search it) and a Grampian ITV regional weatherman.
Officially he’s named Nicholas McDonald.
Unofficially he’s “a little Gary Barlow”, despite not even being a little Howard Donald, and was told by Walsh: “We forget you’re only 17.”
At least we would, if he and Osbourne hadn’t banged on about his age for so long that he’s aged one year.
They care more about that than the fact his Halo by Beyonce was the most horrendous din X Factor has produced since Diana Vickers.
“I ain’t never going to shut you OWW-OOWWWWWT!”
What really undid X Factor, even more than the dreadful standard of singing, were the four judges.
Gary, Nicole, Louis and Zuul telling Nicholas to stop crying last Saturday rivals this show’s all-time hypocrisy.
Osbourne has fought the audience from day one, Walsh is an irrelevance and Barlow has got out two series too late.
Scherzinger’s completely off her chops: “Sam, when I listen to your voice, hoo! Shiitake mushrooms!” and should probably stop taking the mushrooms.
The last say, however, goes to the one good thing about this series, Sam Bailey, who closed disco week with either a song or a heartfelt request from the nation to X Factor.
No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).
Monty Python are reuniting and Open All Hours is back for business.
And judging by some dubious British Comedy Awards honourees (Paul Whitehouse, Lee Mack and Nina Conti aside), we’re right to cling to past glories.
Credit though to host Jonathan Ross, on reliably his best annual TV outing, who ended the night branding C4 “f***ing idiots” on Twitter for cutting short Steve Coogan’s speech.
Fancy that. Hacked Off’s Steve Coogan denied free speech.
Now that’s comedy.
Do I hate C5’s Abba @ 40 Night?
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do.
This week’s Most Honest TV Critic award goes to...
June “Dot Cotton” Brown recalling the first time she watched EastEnders, on The One Show: “I saw Lou Beale and Pauline having a row and I thought, ‘Oh, I can’t watch all this shouting’, so I didn’t bother.”
I can’t compete with that.
Quite the stolen haul on Derren Brown: The Great Art Robbery.
And now Ocean’s Eleven would like its replica crime scene back, plus Off Their Rockers’ mischievous OAPs idea.
You can keep the painting.
Barely half an hour into ITV’s 150-minute endurance test and rappers Rizzle Kicks have a suggestion: “Let’s skip to the good bit.”
So I did. But the end credits weren’t much better than the rest of the Royal Variety Performance.
A feeble night of Andrew Lloyd Webber drivel, so-so comics like Jason Byrne in underpants and Seann Walsh, and Olly Murs in a scat-off with Robbie Williams.
But I’m glad I stuck with it, just for John Bishop introducing the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory musical: “This is the only performance we’ll see four Charlies on stage.”
What with JLS disbanding.
Kerry Katona to The Wright Stuff’s Richard Madeley during Monday’s papers review: “Asda has stopped parents buying alcohol if their children are with them.”
Myleene Klass: “What’s the idea behind it? That you might do something reckless like drink it on the way home?”
Or like waltz through the checkout without paying, then tell a judge it was a memory lapse?
There’s Something About Susan (Boyle)?
There’s something on another channel.
With This Morning now a Katie Hopkins-free zone, let’s remind ourselves what she told ITV’s Daybreak on May 29 about obese kids taken into care.
“It is parental neglect. Why wouldn’t we take a child into care?”
And, on the same subject, “health journalist” Danni Levy on Wednesday’s This Morning: “This is child neglect. I would absolutely condone these children being confiscated from their parents.”
The Hopkins ban has made a world of difference.
This week’s Spudulikes...
ITV4’s Keane and Vieira: Best of Enemies.
Attraction on the Royal Variety Performance.
Barack Obama’s stirring Mandela memorial speech.
The Wright Stuff insult-machine Richard Madeley on hearing guest Myleene Klass lost half a stone on I’m A Celebrity: “That’s not much. Mind you, you weren’t that fat when you went in.”
Master chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory’s creation of Phillip Schofield’s face on This Morning looking more like the blind girl’s Lionel Richie sculpture in the Hello video.
And Michael Gambon out-acting everyone on Lucan. Everyone, that is, except that un-credited man in gorilla suit. Are you watching, Bafta?
This week’s Spuduhates...
Tom Daley’s absence on I’m A Celebrity... Coming Out.
MasterChef’s finals becoming a deconstructed X Factor with a “comfort zones” reduction.
The magical self-moving tinsel on EastEnders’ hastily crowbarred, continuity-challenged Mandela scene.
ITV News promoting Bono to “world leader”.
Monty Halls and Japan’s Atlantis taking 58 minutes to answer the question: “Is this Japan’s Atlantis or just a lump of rock?” with: “Any conclusive evidence has been lost to the eroding powers of the ocean.”
C5’s cynical two-hour Littlewoods catalogue advertorial The Great Christmas Toy Giveaway.
And Newsnight failing to spell “ethinic” and calling The Shard “the tallest building in Europe”. Which it is. Unless you count the 100ft taller Mercury City Tower in Moscow.