broadcasting, television, X_Factor-tipping

The Joy of X Down Under: X-Factor has hit Australia, but why are only the Brits excited?

last night the X-Factor hit Australia.  but despite a huge marketing push by Seven, the launch episode achieved only a disappointing 1.186m, making it the fifth most watched programme of the night behind four news and current affairs efforts.  the winner, Nine's A Current Affair, won the ratings battle with – ironically enough – an interview with the family of Matthew Newton, the X-Factor host recently dumped by Seven.

as a big fan of the show in the UK – where it's fair to say it's a bit of a national institution – I've spend much of today (amongst other things) pondering why it is that Australia just doesn't seem to 'get' X …

on paper it should all add up.  Australia likes Reality formats (as evidenced by the huge success of Masterchef); there's a gap in the schedule (the aforementioned Chef has just finished); there's a natural audience underserved by reality music shows (Australian Idol is a distant memory); and awareness of the show's imminent arrival was more than apparent.

but even during the day yesterday there were worrying signs.  I asked a few people if they were looking forward to X that evening to which the most upbeat response I got was "oh, maybe".  in fact the only person with any enthusiasm for rushing home for a night in with the format was another Brit, who assured me that his fellow Brits were similarly excited.  but it seems, as judged by the shows performance, it was a decidedly British sentiment.  a hangover from the glory of the show in the Motherland.

having watched the show there's clearly some issue with the content.  the production quality lacks the shine of the UK version, but this may very much be a result of the hastily re-edited version that Freemantle had to get out of the door following Newton's departure.  but the issues don't stop there – the judges lack conviction; Ronan's quiet as a mouse, Guy is far too puppyish and whilst he had valid comments they just weren't packaged; the Imbruglia seemed to be focusing on how attractive the talent was and poor Kyle just seemed to hold an expression of mild boredom before rolling off a pre-prepared put down.  the judges, ironically, lacked a confidence that's fundamental to their role.

but the content on the other side of the table didn't fair much better.  there was some good but certainly not spectacular singers; if X is hoping for an international recording artist to emerge it better have had more up it's sleeve for the second round of auditions.

but none of this explains the poor performance of last night's show – as none of this would have been apparent until the show went to air, by which time not enough people were watching (and by my straw poll of six they were mainly Brits).

we can only hope and expect that the show gathers pace.  the talent needs to come through and the judges need to find their feet, and the production quality of the live finals will surely increase.  but in the meantime serious questions must be being asked at Seven…  about just why Australia doesn't seem to want the X-Factor; because whilst it's going to be a yes from me, how Australia votes is another matter entirely.


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…



Whoops, they did it again: another great week for X, but a poor performance by Mediation on the Tipping-front

a poor performance by Mediation in the Tipping Competition this week.  no surprise to see Rachel in the bottom two and called that one no problem, and so nearly called Rikki too.  but nearly doesn't cut it…  my vote went to Miss Frank, a vote that cost me dearly – only 15 points and now in joint 21st place.  not good enough at all.

X_09_wk_2_Rikki_outbye Rikki, your eyebrow shall be missed (pic from ITV)

another awesome show though – highlights definitely being another comeback from another all-too wired pop icon, the birth of the Cheryl Cole Project / Army, another amazing performance from Joe, and then this…

X_09_wk2_show_john_and_edward Whoops, they did it again (pic from ITV)

what can you say other that genius, genius, genius.  we all recall the all-too uncomfortable Same Difference performances…  you remember – "I know they're just sister and brother but…" kind of thing.  John and Edward have no such reserve – they not only don't avoid the "are they too close for brothers?" debate, but come smashing through the other side and do a full on love scene in the middle of the song.

they're brave, they're different, and above all they're entertaining and deserve to be there.  Mrs Cole is talking nonsense when she says she can't believe that J&E are there and Rikki's gone; J&E leave us wondering how the hell they did that and – crucially – what the hell they're going to do next time.  and that Cheryl, means votes.  here's to the brothers keeping us entertained for a good few weeks yet.

here's that leader board…

Gordon 45
Kevin 45
Mat 45
Nuala 45
Alex L 40
Alex V 40
April 40
Bree 40
Chris G 40
Dale 40
Dave 40
Helen 40
Jason K 40
Jason W 40
Lawrence 40
Nicole 40
Ruth 40
Simon M 40
Simon W 40
Stu 40
Chris S 35
Paul E 35
Tom 35
Ashley 35
Paul W 35
Lucy 30
Neil 30
Nick 30
Saskia 30
Camara 25
Bimla 20
Mauro 20
Carole 20
Alison 10
Keely 10


How X Kicked Off: all the Ratings, Results, Tipping Scores and Events that were the first X-Factor live final

well any threat to a dull start was quickly seen off…  right people, here's how it went down.  Gray's Inn Road will be celebrating a ratings win…  12.8 million of us watched Saturday's show giving it a 44% share, compared to the 32% share of 8 million that strictly mustered.  but this was, crucially, followed by an amazing ratings performance on Sunday when on average 13 million of us watched the results show.  viewing peaked during Robbie's rather stimulated performance at 14.5 million.  thanks Tom J for the figs on this.

X_09_wk_1_bottom two
there was less wow-Factor to the results, I called Kandy but was surprised to see Rachel in the bottom two.  but then by the time it got to vote we'd had two hours of crazy crazy TV in which to forget her.  fairly easy first tipps therefore see most of the tipping pack sitting on 20 points, with one early Tipping hero taking an early lead on 25.  here are the full scores…

big shout out to Mat who predicted Kandy Rain and Rachel as the bottom two and bags 25 points.  the main field are following hotly behind him on 20 points – where Mediation is joined by Alex L, Alex V, April, Chris, Dale, Dave, Gordon, Jason K, Jason W, Kevin, Lawrence, Lucy, Neil, Nicole, Nuala, Paul, Ruth, both the Simons, Stu and Tom.  on 10 points are Alison, Ashley, Bimla, Camara, Keely, Mauro, Nick, Paul and Saskia.  finally with a disappointing first week is Carole, who is yet to score.

which brings up to this:

my Twitter feed really tells the whole story (ignore the Grazia style bit – thats a head's up for Friday's post), Danyl started really strong and gave an amazing performance but then Danni's foot in mouth happened.  cue the Guardian live blog going mental, about five IMs coming in and the Twittersphere spontaneously combusting.  OK perhaps it felt bigger at the time but Petit Chablis had been involved.

point is, I went to bed thinking bad Dannii and then watched the end of the show again on Sunday morning when less Petit Chablis was in hand.  Danni was, in retrospect, clearly trying to support Danyl by saying that he shouldn't feel compelled to change the 'gender references' when he sings.  that its OK for a boy to sing a song about a boy.  and on this she's right.  but on doing it on national television with a comment that went above the heads of most of the studio audience is something else entirely…  misjudged, yes; maliscious, no.

but a few nicely handled words for the judging bench last night and its all well that ends well, allowing us to move on to more fun-filled Factor frolics next week…  there's some good banter in The Blue Room on this but I'll leave the final word on Dannii and Daryl to Alexis Petridis' elegant testimony in today's Guardian to Stephen Gately who died at the weekend…

"On the night Gately died, X Factor judge Dannii Minogue tried a clumsy joke about contestant Danyl Johnson's sexuality. The studio audience received it in stony silence: not shocked so much as "so what?" It would be ridiculous to call that reaction the legacy of Gately coming out, but it is not entirely unlinked. He was the first person to prove mainstream pop audiences were less bigoted than some had feared."


The Joy of X: the return of Dale’s X-Factor Tipping Competition, the smart restraint of X advertising, and why a two-night schedule could be one gamble too far

here we are again.  the nights are drawing in and the leaves are beginning to turn so this must mean its time for the X-Factor Live Finals.  once again the lovely Dale is organising a tipping competition.  Mediation is of course once again taking part.  here's how it works…

each week Mediation will be picking two acts who I think will go through (my top two) and two acts I think have a chance of going home (bottom two).  for each act in my top two that advance Mediation gets 5 points.  if one of my two bottom choices gets kicked off I get a whopping 10 points.  if they are in the bottom two and don’t get sent home I get 5 points.

sounds complicated?  well it kind of is but it also kinda works, so here are my tips.  my top two are easy…

X_09_Lucie X_09_Jamie

Lucie is a gem – sweet, gorgeous voice, the nation will love her.  and Jamie is easily producers favourite – different, distinctive, brings something new and different and a nice guy.  Simon clearly believes this guy can make him some serious money.  and if its good enough for Simon its good enough for me.  as for the bottom two…

X_09_Kandy_Rain X_09_Miss_Frank

armageddon this year for Louis, didn't have much to choose from and reckon he made bad choices with what he did have.  first in my bottom two is Kandy Rain – the vocals are weak and they're not going to click with many of the voting public.  the second one is a lot harder, and Rikki was there in consideration for a good while but I'm going to go for Miss Frank.  I hope they don't go but the groups are just so weak this year I don't think they're going to garner many votes at all.

also, saw the above 48s on Tottenham Court Road.  restrained, cool, different, right.  good to see ITV / BBH investing in the show with such smart restraint (same can't be said for its News of the Screws partnership which I've seen advertised but we'll let that one slide).

it may be that this is more of a media industry targeted campaign – it is after all full frontal to where many of the planners and buyers of Vizeum, Starcom, Zenith, PHD and OMD will trot in the morning on their way to work.  in which case a lovely move too…  good to see ITV having and showing confidence after so many knocks of late…

its also likely of course that this confidence is the reason behind the splitting of the show across Saturday and Sunday…  mistake Mediation thinks.  it may generate more ratings in the short term but I'm not convinced its a long term winner.  part of the joy of X is going out after and debating the result.  chatter which always carried into Monday morning without the need for a Sunday night show.  the danger is that you leave people on Saturday night wanting more, but only deliver what's a bit of an anti-climax on the Sunday…  you need to build up all that hype again so that the jeopardy of the vote plays out to full affect.

it didn't work for Strictly, and it doesn't in my opinion work for American Idol.  the two-night schedule could turn out to be a gamble too far for the new-look Factor.

enjoy the show.


X Factor Tipping: FINAL Results

it's been a while since Mediation updated the X Factor Tipping scores.  so long in fact that the final scores are in.  people it's not good.  Mediation finished joint 9th, with the final scores as follows:

1. Richard 165
2. Lizzy 160
3. Maria 155
4. Nicole 150
5. Davey 140
5. Paul 140
7. David D 135
7. Stu 135
9. Mediation 130
9. Dale 130
9. Emma 130
9. Simon 130
13. Carole 120
13. Nuala 120
15. Phillip 110
16. Jason W 105
16. Nick 105
18. Jason K 100
18. Tom 100
20. Bree 95
21. Laura 60

you can see from the below chart where it all went wrong…


Mediation never recovered from Laura's exit in week five, losing five points and never beating the momentum of the pack to make it back up.  but lots of fun so a big thanks to Dale for organising and a big congrats to Richard for winning.  of course Richard wasn't the only winner on the night…

Alexandra won big time.  her single – a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah – is (I'm informed by my MD) the fastest-selling
download ever across Europe, despite only being available since yesterday.  HMV
believe it is unstoppable for Chrimbo No. 1.  so well done Alexandra.

well done too to Cheryl, who in six months has gone from the pretty one in that girl band, to the nation's favourite girl done good…  not only did she win in her rookie year but did it with a style and passion that left certain other judges looking rather cold indeed.

not left in the cold were ITV who won an astounding 58% share of audience in the results show.  the ratings peak of 14.8m viewers made it the highest rating UK programme since the Only Fools &
Horses Christmas Special
five years ago.  at the network's upfronts presentation in October Peter Fincham et al described ITV1 as the home of event TV; Saturday's performance must have been a welcome boost to ITV execs in the run up to Chrimbo.  all that and Dancing on Ice hasn't even started yet.

but the biggest winner of the night was Cowell, who will profit from a successful Alexandra, and popular Cheryl and a happy Michael Grade.  Show business eh, there's nothing like it.

X Factor Winners: (from top) Alexandra Burke, Cheryl Cole, Michael Grade and Simon Cowell


X Factor Tipping: results after weeks four and five

two weeks to update and what a couple of shockers they've been.  the week before last saw Austin go out after Daniel wasn't in the bottom two despite has murdering of Don't Leave Me This Way.  wrong, wrong wrong.  still, after week four Mediation was up 10 points to 60.

then this weekend saw the unbelievable as Laura went out when she was up against Ruth.  now there's no way should she have been in the bottom two, but the reality is that being behind that piano seemingly cost her…  the singing wasn't up to her usual standard and you're only as good as you last performance.  unless of course you're Daniel in which case you can put in a performance that wouldn't get you very much on SingStar and still apparently survive.

regular readers of X-Factor Tipping will recall that if one of the acts you nominate to stay is in the bottom two, 5 points are lost.  if
one of your nominated 'stay' acts is sent home 10 points walk out the door.  Mediation had (of course) Laura as one of it's acts to stay and so
lost 5 points and is now down to 55, with the results standing as follows:

1. Emma 80
2. Maria
2. Richard
4. Davey
4. Lizzy
4. Nicole
7. Nuala
7. Paul
7. Philip
7. Simon
11. Carole
11. David D
13. Mediation

13. Jason K
13. Jason W
13. Stu
17. Bree
17. Dale
19. Nick
20. Laura
20. Tom 35

it's not looking good people.  cheer however has been brought about by the storm of protest that has followed Laura's exit, and specifically the nature of said exit.  I don't think that there can be any doubt whatsoever that Louis' vote was tactical – he wanted one of the biggest threats to his one remaining act gone, so voted Laura off.  where, oh where is the justice?

it's especially pleasing to see our Culture Secretary Andy Burnham leading the charge.  in Parliament today he commented that whilst MPs "should resist that temptation to comment on editorial matters", (I'll remind him of that one day) he added that "the temptation is great in my case, having seen the wonderful
and talented Laura White very harshly voted off X Factor on Saturday"  …interesting times people, interesting times.

you can view the clip of Burnham's comments by clicking below…  enjoy.



X Factor Tipping: results after week three

right so there is SO a pattern emerging…  I needed a good week and didn't get one.  I'd nominated Daniel and Rachel (who as it turns out was amazing on Saturday) to go.  got one right.  again.  and the one I nominated didn't go so only 15 points.  gutted.  but to that pattern; my nominations to go so far have been:

week one : Girlband and Ruth …no, Ruth was safe
week two : Girlband and Scott …no, my week one nomination (Ruth) was in bottom two
week three: Daniel and Rachel …no, my week two nomination (Scott) was in bottom two

so I'm predicting correctly, but I'm a week ahead of the game; which means the clear nominations for my bottom two in week four should be Daniel and Rachel.  we'll see.  but in the meantime to the results: every single competitor predicted that either Daniel or Scott would be going except Dale…

but the antipodean one's error was spectacularly outdone by Paul and last week's
leader Davey who both picked Scott to stay.  not in a million years was Scott safe against the girls – we're looking at an all-Cheryl final let alone an all-female one…  that said, Scott so should have stayed, not because he's good (he's not) but because he's a darn sight better than Daniel who should have gone.  we all know what bought him one more week.  next week – for sure.

scores as they stand after week three:

1. Jason K 60
1. Nicole 60
1. Philip 60
1. Simon 60
5. Carole 55
5. Davey 55
5. Nuala 55
8. Mediation 50
8. David D 50
8. Emma 50
8. Richard 50 
8. Stu 50
13. Bree 45
13. Dale 45
13. Jason W 45
13. Lizzy 45
13. Maria 45
13. Paul 45
19. Nick 30
20. Tom 25

one last word to Louis' break-down at voting.  bless.


X Factor Tipping: results after week two

aargh.  really annoyingly I got the results for week two correct… only I got them correct last week.  my week one votes for Ruth to be in the bottom two would have stood me in really good stead.  as it is, a comfortable 20 points for Mediation brings total points after week two to 35.

1. Davey           50
2. Philip           
3. Carole          
3. Paul             
5. Mediation    

5. Dale             
5. David D        
5. Emma          
5. Jason K        
5. Nicole          
5. Richard        
5. Simon          
5. Stu              
14. Bree           
14. Jason W     
14. Lizzy          
14. Nuala         
18. Laura         
19. Nick           
19. Tom           

need to have a couple of good weeks to break me away from the pack and start challenging the leaders, who I'm convinced have insider info…  for nominations this coming week, I'm thinking deffo Daniel, Scott and Ruth in the firing line…  we'll see.  for now, it's a (predicted) farewell to Girlband…

healing the world Girlband-style… what were they thinking?


X Factor Tipping: live finals – week two

after a poor showing in week one, Mediation's looking to do better this week.  X Factor Tipping is simple – every week until we get to the final five Mediation has to pick two acts I think will
survive (yes’s) and
two acts that you think could
be sent home (no’s)…
  week two's tips are as follows:

first vote to stay remains with Alexandra.  amazing performance last week and she hasn't even hit the ballads yet.  in a class of her own.

staying with her once again I'm saying Laura.  high hopes last week were more than met with an awesome performance.  another safe bet I reckon.

my first tip to go is once again Girlband.  Britain is clearly not in the mood to crown a girl band this year and reckon it will be the sing off once again for the ladies.  to be fair they should have gone last week – this one is an inevitability methinks.

the toughest choice this week is who to tip to join Girlband in the bottom two.  ultimately it came down to Dan – who really, really cannot sing for toffee, or Scott.  and I've gone with the latter because Dan's back-story will keep him in for a few weeks yet and Scott must be cried out by now…  Xtra factor was more like a tourism ad for the US last week, with Scott doing an admirable if increasingly distracting impersonation of Niagara Falls.  enough.  Sayonara Scott.