Belfast Telegraph

X Factor 2017: 7 things we can expect from the new series including NI contestant Rwanda Shaw

The X Factor 2017 kicks off this weekend as the search for the next big singing sensation (or reality TV star) begins.

Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, Sharon Osbourne, and Louis Walsh return with Dermot O'Leary at the helm of proceedings at the auditions stage of the competition.

Now in its 14th year, The X Factor has seen a lot of changes, from the judging line-up to the presenters, to the show's format - but just like Louis' lines when critiquing a contestant's performance, some things can be expected.

1. Northern Irish and Irish acts

It's been a while since a homegrown talent has appeared on the show but it's about to change.

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Pictured: Rwanda Shaw (C) Syco / Thames / ITV Plc

On Saturday viewers will see Rwanda Shaw, a 21-year-old shop assistant from Lisburn, belt out Florence and The Machine's You Got The Love in her bid to make it to bootcamp.

While X Factor bosses try to keep information about this year's acts a secret as they progress to different stages ahead of the live shows, it has also been leaked that at least two acts from Ireland will appear during the series.

Wicklow brothers Sean and Conor Price and Dublin girl group F.A.E are set to impress the panel during their first auditions to progress in the competition and it's believed Sean and Conor even make it as far at Simon's Judges' Houses.

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Sean and Conor Price. (Facebook)

2. The best incarnation of the judging panel (arguably)

Cheryl, Mel B, Gary Barlow, Danni Minogue ... there's been a few changing faces to The X Factor panel over the years, with some choices more popular than others.

But the four judges completing the line-up this year are arguably the best combination the show has had, so much so boss Simon hasn't made a change from last year's roster of names.

Much like an emotional sob story, they can never get rid of Louis (they tried, remember?) and there really is no X Factor without him, plus Simon's the big bad boss so he's not going anywhere.

Meanwhile, the ladies on the panel have the prefect combination of being hilariously funny and the will to stand up to Simon when they need to - which always provides great TV.

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The X Factor

3. Hugs from Dermot

When Dermot O'Leary parted ways with The X Factor in 2015 everyone felt it. Sure, Caroline Flack and Olly Murs were OK - we won't mention the infamous Monica Michael slip up - but they just weren't Dermot.

Thankfully the presenter saw the error of his ways and returned to the show last year and we can definitely expect Dermot hugs to be dished out like sweets during the upcoming shows - because everyone needs a Dermot hug.

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Dermot O'Leary attending The X Factor press launch

4. Louis' close to the bone remarks

Louis Walsh is renowned for his scathing 'all in good fun' quips aimed at his fellow judges - just this week he questioned whether or not the public knew Nicole's actual age.

And let's not forget the time Sharon threw a glass of water over him for his comments about her husband Ozzy.

Louis just does not have a filter which means more golden TV moments can be expected this year.

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X Factor judges Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne

5. Alesha Dixon

Normally sat behind the judges' desk on Britain's Got Talent, Alesha was called upon to make a cameo appearance on this year's X Factor to fill in for Nicole and Sharon for a few days while they were filming auditions.

Alesha is always having a laugh on BGT so it will be interesting to see her take on The X Factor hopefuls.

Always one for causing controversy, Louis recently said he would like to see Alesha leave her BGT role to be a permanent judge on The X Factor - no doubt Sharon and Nicole will have something to say about that.

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Alesha Dixon

6. A shake up of format

X Factor bosses are always eager to keep things fresh when it comes to the show's format and while introducing The Six Chair Challenge was a welcome change, they haven't always got it right.

This year the show will be focusing more on the audition stages of the competition and reducing the number of lives shows.

So while The X Factor was previously used as a countdown to Christmas, the show won't run for as long into December and Dermot's Saturday night dancing will be curtailed, which is a big shame.

7. Emotional back-stories

A sick pet, a proud granny, a win over adversity - the contestants' emotional back-stories are as expected on The X Factor as claims the competition is fixed and Simon has already signed the winner.

Information we have about the contestants so far is there will be a monk, a millionaire, and an all male four-piece who perform, quite possibly, the best first audition ever seen on The X Factor.

No doubt we can expect great things from the class of 2017.

The X Factor airs on ITV this Saturday and Sunday at 8pm.

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