Couch Potato: Louis Walsh and X Factor’s schizophrenia

The X Factor judges
The X Factor judges

Ten years Louis Walsh has had this gig.

In that time he’s verbally killed Motown founder Berry Gordy, likened a 54-year-old man to “a young Elton John” and, most regrettably, failed to jettison Rylan Clark back into obscurity when he had a golden chance.

But when it comes to The X Factor, he knows his stuff.

Like last night when he told sweet-voiced Abi Alton (who probably reminded him of a sighted Andrea Begley): “I’m not sure you’re right for this show.”

He’s right, you know. She sings remotely in tune.

Grossly over-qualified for ITV’s karaoke contest, which opened encouragingly with the welcome return of the room auditions, alas without Big Tony the bouncer, before nose-diving at Sunday’s complete-waste-of-an-hour arena try-outs.

Three episodes in, it’s already desperate enough to wheel out a parade of Judges’ Houses past failures and 45-year-old Colin Stacey who sings to a photo of his cat and cites Joe McElderry and Matt Cardle as inspiration.

Probably not the best examples of long-term superstardom but at least he followed in their footsteps by being dumped unceremoniously on the Simon Cowell scrapheap.

They’re all victims of the show’s acute case of schizophrenia that reared its ugly head in savage barbarity, in week one, when Fil “with an F” Henley swaggered in with all the rock-star charisma of Ronnie Corbett and made a complete illock-with-a-P of himself.

So naturally, after disagreeing with their own decision, the judges invited him to make an even bigger one before 4,000 people at Wembley Arena, with the advice to unleash the rocker within him and vandalise the place.

If you witnessed the 90 seconds of self-humiliation that followed on Sunday night, you’ll be aware that the very same panel that gave him the rope with which to hang himself immediately developed amnesia and washed their hands of all responsibility: “You should do it at home.”

It was one of the most staggering and blatant displays of cynical manipulation I’ve witnessed on this show.

Sadly it wiped the memory of some rare comedy treasures in the audition room, most notably nose-holding, throat-tapping, Mull of Kintyre bagpipe-channelling Frank Justmann.

None of which would have worked in the auditorium auditions, a Cowell obsession that’s always been an error of judgement.

And now we have this utterly pointless two-phase selection process, like a job interview followed by a PowerPoint presentation to the executive board, which means everyone on this evening is from last night.

The judges are all frantically justifying it, of course, Nicole “sing your heart out” Scherzinger more than anyone: “This part of the audition process is so important – to see who really comes to life on stage.”

Yet even if there was a point to the new format, both Walsh and Scherzinger have missed it, having given a “yes” to two acts that disappointed on Sunday based on their audition-room performances alone.

The changes are cosmetic.

Sharon Osbourne’s return is an uninspiring move that serves only to highlight how stale the show’s become since she left.

Louis Walsh dared to proclaim: “Sharon’s so unpredictable. You never know what she’s going to say.”

She’s going to say: “Fabulous,” Louis, and you know it.

And the deep-rooted irritations remain – the acoustic guitar buskers, the panel splitting up a group, the torrent of sob stories and the cynicism.

In fact all my hopes are now pinned on one person.

So, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the floor Strictly Come Dancing’s Mark Benton.

Saturday night needs you.


Shocks aplenty on last night’s Strictly Come Dancing launch.

Ashley Taylor Dawson’s convincing faint on hearing his partner is Ola proved he can act.

Despite the fact he’s in Hollyoaks.

Anton du Beke has finally served his four-year punishment for “Paki”-gate by not being lumbered with the series carthorse for the first time since 2009.

Because instead, Vanessa Feltz will be testing ego-in-sequins James Jordan’s core strength to the, well, core.

An inspired move in a line-up that appears increasingly promising the more I look at it.

But not instantly the best ever. Why? Weren’t you paying attention?

There’s a bloke from Hollyoaks.


This week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...

C4’s gritty Top Boy.

Nat Geo’s 9/11: Ten Years Later and C4’s 9/11: 102 Minutes That Changed America repeats.

Corrie’s David “Roy Cropper” Neilson’s touching performance on learning Hayley’s inoperable tumour news.

James Brown’s Cold Sweat on EastEnders’ trailer providing the one positive I can say about the show.

Stephen Mulhern lifting Big Star’s Little Star (celebrity Child’s Play), which needs moving to Sunday night.

Carol McGiffin seeing no need to hide her “sex dice” from view on Through The Keyhole.

And the three excruciating seconds it took Darcy Bussell to answer The One Show Matt Baker’s question: “Is this the best Strictly line-up ever?”

“Yes,” she lied.


Farewell then to Celebrity Big Brother horror Sophie “sweetie, darling” Anderton who’d insisted on day five: “I want to walk out with my integrity intact.”

The same day, in fact, that she was made to dress as a pig-tailed Swiss alpine girl marching around on a giant clock while Louie Spence acted as the cuckoo, in full yellow feathery costume.

Still, at least she left with her integrity intact.


This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...

That Puppet Game Show writing its own death warrant by failing to change the record.

ITV’s insult to David Frost, Through The Keyhole, with the network’s inexplicable infatuation Keith Lemon.

Dragons’ Den awarding Captain Ego, Peter Jones, a loving compilation of his lame one-liners.

BBC1’s half-arsed Transfer Deadline Day coverage.

Sue Perkins turning Great British Bake Off into a smut-fest: “Okay bakers, get those lady fingers soggy.”

And maladjusted, objectionable, self-pitying, socially challenged, Billy no mates Celebrity Big Brother housemate Lauren Harries, a genetic mutation between Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Blofeld’s cat.

I’ll level with you. I’m not her biggest fan.


This week’s Maths Whizz of the Week award goes to...

Ian Wright on Football Focus: “When Suarez isn’t playing, Liverpool win 72 per cent of the games, and only 42 per cent when he’s playing.”

That’s Ian Wright. Giving 114 per cent.


Lurid confession from Celebrity MasterChef animal rights activist Janet Street-Porter: “I had to bone 16 rabbits in a very short space of time.”

Our thoughts, at this difficult time, go out to those rabbits, their friends and family.


Two weeks into ITV Strictly rip-off Stepping Out but, if you’re like me, you’ll still have flashbacks of black-leather-kilt wearing Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s street dance burned into your memory.

A man who put the “hip op” into “hip-hop”, it was like the Village People had opened a YMCA branch in Inverness and invited an ITV camera crew along.

It’s a pitiful, doomed venture, though. Not least because the show has nicked Strictly’s musical director, So You Think You Can Dance’s choreographer, Dancing On Ice’s acerbic judge and the host of Sky1’s Got To Dance.

You can’t beat originality, can you?


Fans of clapped-out 1990s boybands and girlbands rejoice!

It’s ITV2’s has-beens roadshow The Big Reunion: On Tour, complete with Andi Peters’ sarcastic narration: “The resurgent pop deities blew the roof off Hammersmith Apollo.”

Ali G incarnate Abz Love, meanwhile, queried: “I’m waving at people. Why don’t they wave back anymore?”

(You’re not famous anymore might have something to do with it.)

And ex-5ive bandmate J Brown revealed his battle with personal demons: “For the past 12 years the driving force of my existence has been this consuming search I’ve been on and I’ve found completeness and wholeness and I experience existence now as being miraculous and...”

Yeah, whatever. Just sing Keep On Movin’.


Only one place to be on Monday – in the company of Sky Sports’ ice-cool Natalie Sawyer and ever-frenetic Jim White, who was defrosted from the carbonite for the occasion.

“It’s Transfer Deadline Day,” he boomed. “The day football goes berserk. And we go berserk with it.”

No choice, then, but to join the ride that featured rudely gesticulating fans behind hapless reporters, Harry Redknapp failing to be interviewed through a car window until 11.18pm, White delivering the irrefutable statement: “There’s only one Genséric Kusunga...”

And scoop of the night from Gail Davis, at QPR’s training ground: “Well, Natalie, the latest is the pizzas arrived 20 minutes ago.”

No news yet on toppings. But do stay tuned.