What with a superhero movie premiere, Gary Barlow nabbing an OBE, Chantelle Houghton's dramatic birth, X Factor announcements and Jimmy Carr's tax furore, it's been a diverse week to say the least.
The stars of Spiderman descended on London's Leicester Square earlier this week for the Amazing Spider-Man UK premiere. Blessed with a rare dry evening (I swear, everytime I've been to an Odeon premiere it has bucketed down!) the stars were out in force to celebrate the fourth film instalment of the comic book hero's adventures. Spidey himself Andrew Garfield took to the webbed red carpet separate from his on AND off-screen girlfriend Emma Stone, both looking relaxed, chatty and glam. It's also good to see co-star Rhys Ifans back on form and reasonably coherent for the event . The much-anticipated blockbuster is out nationwide July 3.
With The X Factor rarely out of the headlines, and not even remotely on our screens yet (we have to wait for August, my friends) I took the opportunity and kind offer by the press team to get in on the action during the Manchester leg of auditions and see for myself how the series is shaping up. Fortunately for all, it was just as a spectator with my showbiz 'hat' on, although the temptation to join in at one point and belt out a Whitney classic was almost too overpowering. Thankfully, my girl band days are behind me.
Battling through the June rain (quelle surprise) to Manchester's Event City for the afternoon session of auditions, security was negotiated, I was ushered into a front row seat (ooh, get me) behind Louis Walsh and a most entertaining few hours ensued.
Joining regular judges Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis, this week was guest judge 'Jenny Craig Spice' Mel B. From the outset, she was surprisingly the hardest judge to impress and few got a positive critique from the normally gobby Mel. Cynics may suggest tactics in a bid to justify herself a permanent position, but with an already-glowing reputation in the format, and a contract signed and sealed with X Factor boss Simon Cowell for the Australian series, the impressing has already been done. Indeed had it not been for her existing role on our Aussie relatives' show, I'm certain a permanent spot next to Gary would have been guaranteed.
The day I went, there were no judges' rows, controversial comments or spats, it was all purely about the talent. Or often, in cases, the lack of it.
Now, at this stage I must refrain from spoiling the gems that were some of the acts I laughed, cheered and booed at - I'll never be invited back. And to be honest that would be my loss, as even based on the one day I was in the audience, I can tell you there is some extraordinary talent you're going to see on your screens later in the summer. Anyone that suggests (as admittedly perhaps I did) that surely we've seen the best the UK can offer over the umpteen previous series... the talent MUST have dried up by now(!), are wrong.
Yes, there are bagloads of the 'slightly' less vocally 'talented', deluded, attitude-filled folk (let's be honest, the main reason we tune in initially), but there are also some cracking, never-before-been-unearthed acts that will blow your socks off. One artist in particular was SO spellbindingly talented and original, the standing ovation from the 3,000-strong audience lasted several minutes, prompted an encore and even saw the production staff running around exclaiming that this was perhaps the best act they'd found in eight years! A claim indeed, and I have to say, I agree.
I'm afraid you'll have to wait until the series hits our screens in a few months' time, but if the Manchester auditions are anything to go by, I can safely and confidently predict that The X Factor will be following in its sister show Britain's Got Talent's reborn success this year. And with the search finally over and the announcement that Nicole Scherzinger is to complete the judging quartet, it's set to be a Tulisa/Nicole glam fest - let the style wars begin!