Move over X Factor, Xtra Factor Live is stealing the show

Don't hate, congratulate: Rylan Clark-Neal and Matt Edmondson have knocked it out of the park with this smart and sassy spin-off, says Emma Daly

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It’s series 400 and something of X Factor and after hours of sob stories singing, the ITV2 spin-off has always felt like a bit of a slog. But not this year.

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If Tesco Mary is now Waitrose Mary, then Xtra Factor is Selfridges Xtra Factor thanks to the inspired pairing of hosts Rylan Clark-Neal and Matt Edmondson.

It’s sarcasm aplenty with the pair poking holes in the auditionees, judges, their own guests, themselves, the whole concept of X Factor (it’s OK, they’re hoping to get fired).

They’ve got a sparkly new studio, which feels like someone actually thought about it rather than shoving them in the nearest spare space. Nicole Scherzinger, their first judge to drop by for a chat, summed it up: “Congratu-frikking-lations, this is fancy…”

They’ve got X Factor faves coming out of their ears (including the aforementioned Tesco Mary), exclusive audition clips and they’re the first in line with access to the main show’s biggest talking points meaning it’s not just an OTT highlights version of the main show. Tonight – of course – it was Honey G.

Even the brand new studio audience didn’t appear to have been rounded up from the local McDonalds and were on board with the show’s no-nonsense approach. Asked if an unseen act was going to get through, they merrily waved them off like they were an irritation rather than heralding them a potential new chart topper with nothing more to go on than their name and look. 

With Louis ‘loose cannon’ Walsh, Sharon ‘outrageous’ Osbourne and Simon ‘uncontrollable’ Cowell still to be tackled as live show guests, this spin-off is only going to get better. 

In the words of Honey G: “Don’t hate, congratulate.”

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The Xtra Factor returns Sunday at 9:00pm on ITV2