The countdown is on to find an eXciting new superstar – and the next winner of the race for the Christmas No 1.
>>Click on Cheryl to launch gallery
With just four days to go to the start of the new X Factor series, these are the first pictures from the auditions as the wannabes set out to impress the judging panel and prove themselves worthy successors to Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke.
Tens of thousands of viewers from across Northern Ireland are expected to tune in again this series in the hope that another local finalist will follow in the footsteps of Dungiven teenager Eoghan Quigg.
The schoolboy sparked X Factor fever throughout the province last year when he made it through to the grand final of the show, alongside JLS and Alexandra Burke.
Alexandra went on to win the talent contest and in true X Factor tradition secured the coveted festive No 1 spot with her cover of the classic Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah.
This year’s auditions are set to divide the judges once again with Simon Cowell admitting they are the most eXcentric bunch so far.
“There have been some outstanding auditions and some totally bizarre ones,” said Cowell
“I think everyone will be surprised by some of the auditions that really stand out.”
Also returning this series are fellow judges Louis Walsh, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole.
WALSH: ASPERGER'S CONTESTANT MAY NOT COPE
By Vicky Shaw
X Factor judge Louis Walsh believes contestants such as Scott James, who has Asperger's syndrome, may not be able to cope - but says it must be their choice whether to take part.
James, 21, who will appear on TV screens in the new series of X Factor, told judges he did not leave home for seven years because of his condition.
In an interview with the Radio Times, Walsh was asked if someone like James can take the strain of appearing on the ITV1 show.
He said: "I don't think they can, if I'm honest. People don't realise the pressure that these acts are under, especially when they're competing with everybody else backstage.
"It's a very difficult show to do, even as a judge. It's very gruelling, and it's 10 weeks of very intense performance. Everything you say and do is being watched.
"It's like Big Brother meets Jerry Springer."
Asked if it was fair on James, from Stockton-on-Tees, to allow him to appear, Walsh told the magazine: "Nobody forces anybody to go to an audition.
"I think it's a real-life story. Is he under too much pressure? I think it has to be his choice."
Asked if James knew what he was letting himself in for, Walsh said: "Initially, no," adding: "I think it's a massive reality check for some people."
Despite not appearing on TV yet, James has already been tipped as a singing sensation to rival Susan Boyle
Walsh's comments follow Boyle's much-publicised breakdown after coming second on Britain's Got Talent, which fuelled debate about whether people seen as vulnerable for whatever reason should take part in reality shows.
Since her recovery, the "Hairy Angel" has gone from strength to strength, and was transformed into a glamourpuss for the American issue of Harper's Bazaar.
James wowed judges with a rendition of You Raise Me Up, and is said to have made it through to the "boot camp" stage, which involves just 50 contestants.
Scott James on YouTube