Tonight saw the return of the X Factor and the emptying of our diaries until Christmas. What was clear was that the new format (or rather, the returning old format), with room auditions first, gives the judges the spotlight back.
Sure, we want to hear the amazing performances – we’re confident you shed a tear with us when prison officer Sam Bailey stood on the X and sung Beyonce’s Listen like, well, Beyonce. We definitely want the goofy ones too - although perhaps with more clothes on (that, ahem, package, of waiter Christian’s was rather too much). But best of all the intimacy of the audition room let’s us get up close and personal with Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne.
Sharon, who herself admits she’s “quite fabulous” this series, has returned after a six year sabbatical armed with her iconic cackle, expressive hands and enough “darling”s to keep us going until next year.
In this first week alone Shazza’s already flopped under the desk in hysterics, given us the best description of a mullet we’ve ever heard – “It’s business at the front and party at the back” – and suggested an act get tattoos on his forehead to add a bit more ‘rock’ to his look.
Then of course there’s Nicole and her ever expanding arsenal of Scherzisms. Tonight, Nicole hit us with “You've got balls and you know how much I love balls”, “Schermazeballs” and a slick “Damn, I’m like what?” (flick your hair and pout as you say it for full effect). And she’s not afraid to stand up to the other judges either. After poor Fil Henley and his floppy attempt at rock saw him sent packing, Nicole told the judges “We need somebody to come and get everybody hyped up. Come on he’s an entertainer. Give him a chance.”
Gary’s getting feisty, too. Telling prisoner officer Sam to “cuff him” all but did it for us. Then he started getting all rowdy and throwing things. It was like Cribs Uncut.
Lucky Louis had Fil’s shirt chucked at him, encouraged him to smash up his guitar and of course managed to say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, blurting out to a weepy Hannah Barrett “You’ve got such a sad face” – all while wearing a rather snazzy pink blazer.
No, the judges haven't lost their touch. Even the seemingly good acts are getting a dressing down.
Two-piece girl group Silver Rock sounded pretty splendid to us given they’d met a week ago, but the judges weren’t happy until they were split up, seeing Jerrie and Tamera each put through separately.
Even Hannah Barrett, who hit us with her heartbreaking story which has seen her end up in teen housing, was told to work on her performance after belting out a mesmirising rendition of Emeli Sande’s Read All About It.
Now all we need is for Mrs O to start chucking some water around and it’ll be just like old times…
X Factor continues tomorrow at 8pm on ITV