Too much tinkering, that’s what’s wrong with X Factor – simple as that.
Let’s not get bogged down in overnights and consolidated ratings, on demand and event television, Strictly and scheduling clashes… the reason people are falling out of love with X Factor is that it just keeps changing.
In the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of watching my favourite talent show on different people’s sofas up and down the land – it wasn’t planned, it’s just the way I roll… with my family… in a six-year-old Toyota. But the overwhelming response from all of those people was the same – that they like X Factor because it’s a simple and brilliant Saturday night constant in a turbulent world of transient telly.
In short, change is bad.
Of course there have always been changes in the show, from the judging panel to format tweaks that improved the programme to its 2010 peak – but 2015 has taken this constant fiddling to a new and unsettling level.
Beyond the Judges’ Houses “live” debacle that destroyed everyone’s favourite part of the show (although the abandoned worldwide, multi-location simulcast idea could have been worse), this has been a series where personnel changes have been a serious issue.
You cannot underestimate the loss of Louis Walsh. A pantomime judge, but a man who would argue with Simon Cowell and proudly champion silliness, has been replaced by Nick Grimshaw who lacks the primetime X Factor to fill such big, well-loved shoes.
The same goes for the presenting line-up. Whereas Dermot lent Radio 2 class and credibility to the show with his knowing winks and subtle jibes at the panel, his replacements Caroline Flack and Olly Murs bring a definite feel of ITV2 chic to X Factor. Beyond the slightly awkward presenting dynamic (Ant and Dec they aint) the pair literally have come from ITV2 and it feels like they know it. There is a nervousness about their style as if they are looking to their boss (who is sitting on the judging panel) for approval. This is the opposite of the Saturday night swagger that a big budget shiny floor commercial talent show needs.
And this feeling of slight unease seeps through the 2015 run everywhere you look. Why are guest performers appearing on Saturday night? Whether it is or not, it looks like a desperate attempt to improve ratings. Why are there endless rumours of yet more “new” ideas (from legend judges to live tweeting on the screen) floating around? Has camp Cowell lost its confidence?
The simple truth is, X Factor is a brilliant format and the Great British public love it AS IT WAS. They do not want it to change, even if television critics and bloggers and tweeters bang on every year about how this “can’t go on”. It can, and it will – every Saturday night from August until December until the end of time if everyone just takes a deep breath, makes the show that people love and stops worrying about anything except bloody minded populism.
I love the X Factor and I want it back. Sitting on those sofas around Britain there are a lot of people (who might not blog or tweet) but agree with me. Who do you really want to please, Simon?