It's usually one of the most exciting events in my TV calendar. Every Saturday evening from August, during a well timed gap in the sports schedules, I welcome some very special guests into my living room:
Louis, Dannii, Cheryl and Simon.
I stopped watching Big Brother some time ago, and I really dislike Britain's Got Talent. I'm not a huge fan of "I'm a (z-list) Celebrity, Get Me out of Here" and I couldn't give a shit "What Katie Did Next" (unless of course it was making the decision to retire quietly). So it is without any logic that I find myself getting palpitations at the mere thought of The X Factor gracing my screen as the cold, dark nights are drawing in.
But I can't go on any longer without getting a few things off my chest that have started to annoy me already:
1) Last year, the gorgeous and lovely (albeit abnormally skinny) Cheryl Cole arrived as a judge, and brought with her the most irritating affirmation system known to man. It goes a little something like this:
CHERYL: I loved yous. A hundred per cent yes!
LOUIS: You've got the fun factor, you've got the look factor, you've got the X Factor. A thousand per cent yes!
DANNII: Guys, you were so sexy. The girls will love you! A MILLION per cent yes!!
SIMON: And it's a billion, trillion, squillion gazillion percent to the power of ten from me. See you at Boot Camp!
2) What has happened to Simon Cowell? Mr Mean has become a caricature of himself. I've seen winking, standing ovations, and last night, singing along to Sex on Fire. Each week, he tells someone their audition was "hands down the best solo performance / group performance / female vocalist / first audition" he has ever seen.
3) The Waterworks. Last night, a man whose brother had died of an agressive form of lung cancer reduced me to such a sobbing heap that I actually put to one side what I was doing so that I could really go for it and have a proper cry. I'm not sure I want to feel like this every week, let alone every 5 minutes as each auditionee seems to have some tragedy bubbling away beneath the surface making them a more worthy contestant than the next person. If it carries on at this rate, I'll have had a nervous breakdown by the end of the series because I can't handle all the sadness.
4) Continuity. Cue shot of Dermot standing in front of a crowd of people making the "X" sign with their arms, declaring that we are "In London" for today's auditions. "Oooh, I like that outfit Cheryl's got on!" I think to myself. "And that one!". "Oooh Cheryl's entire hairstyle and make up have changed. Actually, didn't she have it like that in Cardiff on last week's show?!" I smell a rat. Sometimes the entire judging panel's outfits will have changed from when they welcome the act onto the stage and when they give their verdict, suggesting that some of their reactions are cut and pasted from other auditions. But surely not?!
5) The Jeering. The live audience is one of the main reasons why I cannot stand Britain's Got Talent. Out comes a fat girl and her greasy friend calling themselves "The Stunners". Their families are backstage with Dermot, trying not to get too close to them in their T Shirts made by the girls in the travelodge the night before using some "Fluffit" pens left over from their youth.
The audience all start to snigger. The judges patronise them by asking them who they would liken themselves to. The names Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera are bandied about. The audience creases up.
The Stunners start singing and surprise surprise, they are SHIT so of course it is acceptable for the audience to laugh and jeer them off the stage.
In some cultures, this would be called "Bullying". In Britain it's called Entertainment.
I remember watching the "amazing" YouTube clip of some woman called Susan Boyle, who walked onto the stage with her slightly mentally unhinged demeanour and big, bushy eyebrows to the sound of the audience giggling at her. "Oooh look at this oddball. She's bound to be terrible" they all smirked.
When it transpired that she could actually sing, they all changed their tune and gave her a bloody standing ovation. They liked her. She should have told them all to get stuffed.
6) The "Winner". Thank you, Tabloid newspapers, for telling me who is going to win the series before it's even started. I sincerely hope you are wrong.
Last week I watched in amazement as "Danyl" (incredibly, pronounded Dan-i-e-l and not Danil) came skulking out onto the stage, looking like the love child of Will Young and Frank Sinatra, head down in faux self deprecation. I immediately thought to myself "twat" (and before you say anything, yes I am allowed to be judgemental because on this occasion I was right).
With that, he breaks into song and starts prancing, tossing his microphone into the air, getting down into the audience, winking to the camera, and (personally, the most cringeworthy moment of all) perching on the edge of the stage and punching the air in time with the music.
It was obvious that Louis loved him. It became clear that Dannii and Cheryl were also on LSD and gave him a thousand and a million percent yes respectively. But it was OK, I thought, because Simon would have HATED that cheesy charade.
So imagine my horror as the camera panned round to show Cowell, on his feet, declaring that it was the best first audition he had ever seen in his life.
The crowd roared as "A Moment Like This" by Leona Lewis faded up and we get a brief taster of the freak show to follow next week.
I for one will be tuning in...