Judges Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh are back and they’re joined by former X Factor Queen Sharon Osbourne. But Sharon's return is not the only new thing going on this year. Hold on to your hats – here’s five things you can expect to see this series…
Waiting room screening
The in-room auditions are back, which as Gary Barlow joked at yesterday’s launch means it’s only “one act, four judges and… about one hundred camera men.” But actually, dear Gary, that’s not all it is. The acts’ auditions are also being screened in the waiting room meaning all of the other acts can see how they get on. Brilliant when they do well and can walk out to rapturous applause, bit on the awkward side when they’re rubbish. But not to worry, Dermot O’Leary’s there to give a high five, or well-worn shoulder to cry on.
Judges changing their minds
This is going to be a big theme this year, especially at Bootcamp (we’ll get to that in a minute) and it seems as though Nicole, Gary, Sharon and Louis are willing to take a chance on people who have that spark of potential. Take Fil (yes, Fil. With an F) a wannabe rocker who arrived at the auditions with cling-filmed cheese sandwiches his mum had made him. Having given a rather gentle rendition of Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You, in which he lightly shook his mullet around and peeked out from behind the large X, Fil was sent packing as nothing more than ‘light pop’. But Nicole got excited and wanted him to come back as the rocker he thinks he can be. After Gary threw a few pens, a chair and eventually smashed a mug, Fil was told to go away, come back a rock god and let loose with that ‘business at the front, party at the back’ hair that Sharon loved so much.
See Fil (and the judges) in action…
Bootcamp and the dreaded chairs…
Now, one would think Simon Cowell and Co would want to stay as far from chairs as possible, given the obvious rivalry with chair-spinning show The Voice. But of course, being the X Factor, these are chairs with a difference. They don’t spin, look a little bit like eggs, some of the acts get to sit in them and they’re far from comfortable.
The chairs are all to do with the judges being in the new position of already knowing which category they’re taking to Judges’ Houses round at Bootcamp. As each act performs again they can choose to send them home, or pop them on one of the six chairs – seemingly securing them a spot at their house. But here’s the twist. Once all six are filled, if a judge finds an act they like better, it’s a quick switch (OK, we say quick. There’s an agonising wait, a lot of shouting, booing and mind changing) and the formerly safe candidate is sent packing. It’s emotional mayhem.
There’s no head judge
Nope. No one seems to be in charge. Not former head judge Gary, not returning judge Sharon – it’s a bit of a love in. Sharon told RadioTimes.com, “That’s just old crap... We have respect for each other. We actually like each other.”
There’s also no actual ‘fifth judge’ – even though they pretended there might be. Lots of people thought it was going to be Simon Cowell. But in fact it’s just us lot at home and we can join in the show by sharing our own thoughts on acts via The X Factor app.
The girls and the overs have it
It looks like this is the year for the girls and the overs categories, which bodes well for last year’s champion judge Nicole, who’s scooped the girls, and Mrs O who has bagged the overs.
Of course there could be a One Direction moment and some previously unformed band could be created along the way, giving Gary and the groups the edge. Or Louis could pull it out of the bag with the boys. With more choice at Bootcamp stage, it’s all in the judges’ own hands.
Here contestant Hannah Barrett shows what the girls have got…
X Factor kicks off this Saturday night at 8pm ITV