The X Factor (ITV, Saturday, 8.30pm & Sunday, 8pm)
Promises promises. There are a lot of them flying around before this weekend’s final of The X Factor. So much so that I’ve decided to devote all of this week’s much anticipated preview of the weekend’s TV to said Final and these promises and my general reflections on this series.
First, Fleur is promising to belt out an even more spectacular version of 'Uptown Funk' than last week’s game-changing performance. Simon is promising that One Direction have got a big surprise up their sleeves for their appearance on Sunday’s show (they’re singing naked?). And we’re all being promised that Take That will sing 'Rule The World' in part one of the final - held at Wembley Arena - on Saturday along with finalists Andrea Faustini, Ben Haenow and Fleur. The Saturday night not-quite final bit of the Final will also feature performances from Ed Sheeran who will sing 'Photograph', and Meghan Trainor, who will warble 'All AboutThat Bass'.
Then on the Sunday night final Final (by which time the three contenders will have been whittled down to two) we’ll get Sam Smith performing 'Stay With Me' with a 200-strong choir (sounds a bit scary), while One Direction will sing 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go' in promised unique manner, and Olly Murs and Demi Lovato will combine for their duet 'Up'. On top of all that, the finalists’ winner’s songs have been confirmed, too. This means that if Fleur and Haenow get through to Sunday’s show, they’ll both do OneRepublic's 'Something I Need', while Andrea has plumped for a version of Whitney Houston's 'I Didn't Know My Own Strength'.
I’m going bold now and predicting we won’t get to see Andrea’s winner’s song because he will come third. And I reckon Ben will come second, and that Fleur will run away with it. Quite simply, her performance of 'Uptown Funk' last weekend was not only the highpoint of this series, but also one of the great X Factor moments – proof that this show, at its best, can still be unbeatably thrilling. We’ve had a few other such unforgettable moments, mainly provided by Stevi, some gloriously rude interventions from Mel B (her diva-ish refusal to play the game on Xtra Factor each week is one of my main TV pleasures of recent months), further proof that the rather uptight Cheryl is no longer Queen of All Our Hearts, that Simon is still the one whose opinion matters and that Louis is still, adorably, Louis.
As for Dermot, he still commands the whole thing with grace, wit and a likeable control of the unruly elements before him. No one does it better. In the end X Factor is a flawed, overblown, overly complicated beast of a TV show that still makes vast bucks for ITV and still entertains to an extraordinary level. No more three-episodes-a-week, next year, though please. Let’s stop milking it to within an inch of its life. And go, Fleur!
And don’t forget…
Apart from the Strictly Come Dancing semi-final there’s another big TV event this weekend: Sports Personality Of The Year (BBC1, Sunday, 8pm) but it clashes with the last episode of X Factor, so set your recorders if you want to see hot sports people getting gongs.