Go Joe; Why X Factor, and TV like it, holds a unique place in the affections of British culture

so I've a beer in hand, Empire of the Sun is playing in the background, and I'm sat on a balcony watching the sun descend into the haze surrounding the city of Sydney.  it's a beautiful evening and I'm about to head to Owen's birthday party where I'm sure an awesome time will had by all…  so of course, my instinct is to sit and write a blog post on X Factor.

those of you who have been following my progress in Dale's X Factor Tipping Competition will both know that I haven't fared too well at all this year.  I'm blaming a move to Australia, the fact that I can only watch the performances (and none of the extra – vote influencing – bits) on YouTube because iTVplayer blocks non-UK viewing, and the distractions of fancying then not fancying Danyl, hating then loving Jedward and the occasional celebrity come-back / breakdown on national television…  anyway my 120 points put me in joint 22nd place (I know!) and a billion miles away from the amazingness of Chris G's whopping 175 points.  kudos to him, he's set to be a worthy winner.

of course being in and amongst the debate really helps with the old tipping, and that – I think – it what has so held me back since my move to the antipodes.  the fact is that Australians just don't talk about TV in the way that people in the UK do.  I appreciate the irony that the organiser of the tipping competition is Australian but he's living in London so its a moot point.

I only now realise the extent to which TV – and it characters, events and plots – is woven into the fabric of British Culture.  I was at an awards ceremony on Thursday and was explaining that I would be surprised, if not stunned, if there was an office, backroom or group of mates who didn't in some way this week discuss the varying merits of Joe, Stacy and Olly.  its a staple of conversation and debate in the way that soaps and quality drama used to be.

I'm not entirely sure why.  I think that the weather has a lot to do with it – Britons ares simple in sheltering for the elements a lot more.  that and the fact that as nation – as Kate Fox observed in Watching the English – we are predisposed to gossip…  to talking, debating and discussing the news of others.  geography has a bit to play in this, as does our class system.  you can't help but be mindful of Britain's class heritage when you hear the explicit "Stacy that was amazing" and the implicit "…considering"

but the final reason as to why TV is so embedded in UK culture is that it has been so consistently good for so long.  its a key part of the UK's culture because it has for so long been there, entertaining, informing and inspiring us.  we owe both the BBC and commercial channels who never saw themselves – because they were advertiser funded – in lesser terms, a great deal.  they have earned Britain's trust, and we reward them by holding them at the heart of our culture in a way that other countries, and certainly Australians, just don't.

as for tonight, I'm going to hit that party…  but in the morning my alarm will be set and I'll be up and at 'em to watch the YouTube clips posted so that I can see for myself what the final performances were like.  and for the record, Joe to win.  a fellow South Shields kid whose consistenly delivered and upped his game at every stage.  he'd be a worthy winner, deserving of a place amongst the individuals who have, over time, entertained us and in return – for a time – won the affection of a nation.  go Joe…



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