Belfast Telegraph

Why Simon's out of tune with the public over judges for X Factor

By Jane Graham

This week was one in which a tremendous national itch was scratched. An issue which has buzzed irritatingly around our collective consciousness was put to bed once and for all and it felt like the whole country had been steeped in a warm bath, as months of not knowing finally concluded. At last, the new judges panel for The X Factor was confirmed.

The unveiling of the panel had particular impact this year. One does not underestimate the affect upon social cohesion the increasingly tardy announcement has had previously. But the unrest this time round was aggrieved further by Louis Walsh's statement in April that he was seriously thinking of leaving the show he had served in such a diligent and financially rewarding fashion for 11 years.

It would take "serious thought" to convince him to stay on, he said.

A month later, it became clear no package had come along to provoke any serious thoughts. And so, he confirmed his departure, stating proudly, "I wasn't sacked." What the hell was going on, wondered his myriad of fans. All Louis offered was a tiny, unsatisfying crumb: "I wasn't hired."

There were also rumblings that Mel thingy from the Spice Girls would not be returning to her chair.

Don Daddy Simon Cowell, the grapevine whispered, was looking for youth, a cutting edge, a supercharged update. Cold-blooded as it sounds, it seems the still-nubile Mel, whose last hit was a mere 15 years ago, did not fit the bill.

So who did? Cowell showed his wily ways and unique insight into the nation's inclinations by stealing Rita Ora from The Voice and borrowing DJ Nick Grimshaw from the Radio 1 Breakfast Show.

He added himself (rumours that he resigned, then refused to accept his resignation, leaving him unable to do anything but stay on, as is the currently popular style, remain unconfirmed). And he retained Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, or "Cheryl Cole", as everyone actually calls her, for her lovely shiny hair.

I feel Cowell has missed a few tricks. As the panel hard-ass, he, now a soft, squidgy dad, has not been up to scratch lately.

Home secretary Theresa May - who this week almost promised she would stand on the Dover shore and personally kick away any raft containing a refugee family who had risked death to escape the horrors of their home country - would have been a far better choice for the role of stomper on people's dreams.

The panel is also missing a comforting mother figure, a position Sharon Osborne once filled so well.

Watching her "doing hugs" on her tour of the UK this week, it's clear that Michelle Obama was, in as dignified a manner as possible, auditioning for Cowell's show.

Judging by the glow of the kids who got to touch the hem of her garment, Simon was wrong to reject her.

And if The X Factor wants to persuade us it's still the biggest show in the country, Rita Ora pales in pop significance next to Taylor Swift. Swift booked her upcoming UK tour dates when the rumours about a search for new judges began, which can be no coincidence. Cowell only shows his ignorance for not taking the hint and going in for the kill.

As for that last chair - it seems obvious now that, despite the perfect storm of a Louis Walsh departure and a national treasure broadcaster looking to do more stuff, Cowell failed to secure the top man for the job.

Which must be why Chris Evans had to opt for Top Gear instead. Along with most of Simon's headlines. Oops.

Wedding grumps must be kidding

Twice this week I have heard joy expressed at the news that a wedding invite has stipulated "no children". One, on Twitter, said that horses and dogs were welcome, but no human below 14. Tweeting guests thought this was wonderful. I couldn't think of anything worse.

The couple were clearly joyless, horsey, control freaks (royals?). What worse folk to organise a wedding? The best, most fun, weddings are messy, loud, exuberant affairs, in which over-excited children whirling befuddled drunken adults round the dancefloor are essential ingredients. I agree it's helpful to see the child ban clarified beforehand, though - that way, I know for sure I don't want to go.

What's Rod's recipe for perfect wife?

Penny Lancaster said this week she didn't want husband Rod Stewart cooking for the family because it would "undermine his masculinity".

She liked him to play with the kids, in his real-size football pitch out the back presumably, but wasn't sure she'd fancy him anymore in a pinny. This is obviously nonsense, as the wives of the pretty masculine Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver will attest, but it does bear testimony to the famously persuasive powers of Rod, whose less than progressive views of wives have somehow seduced a good number of blondes through the years.

Many envious men will wonder how he does it.

Belfast Telegraph

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