The X Factor, our unofficial countdown to Christmas, is back dominating the Saturday TV schedules, and contrary to the usual media backlash and ratings comparisons of the previous year, having been privy to a couple of the audition rounds, I predict this year to be one of the best in yonks. In the same way the last offering of sister talent show Britain's Got Talent had arguably one of its best series to date, judging by the early talent discovered, I reckon this year's X Factor will follow suit.
Even the crap acts are better. Who could fail to fall in love and belly laugh at the self-deprecating genius of Billy Moore? Clutching his Sainsbury's bag of homemade butties, the anorak-clad Geordie chuckled and insulted HIMSELF throughout his attempted rendition of 'Don't Stop Believin''.
A cross between Chewbacca, Tim Healy and Angelos Epithemiou, this chap is by far my favourite audition to date and produced actual tears of laughter. Humbly accepting the four 'no's', 'our Billy' apologetically left the stage, declaring 'this was a bad idea'. No, mate, you were everything this show needs to inject some humour into our front rooms, and you're welcome for a cuppa round Casa Williamson anytime.
From the terrible to the brilliant, as this week the UK were introduced to the wonderful Lucy Spraggan. Already a hit on the music scene and with her 'single' 'Last Night' romping into the charts, despite this only being the audition rounds, this young lady is destined for great things.
Thank goodness I chose to attend the Manchester auditions and got to witness her standing ovation-induced performance for myself. A confident yet humble girl whose bucketloads of talent and freshness are exactly what this show needs to retain its talent show crown.
The day I went we'd seen umpteen mediocre acts and had endured a grumpy Mel B, the crowd were in a sombre mood. Lucy and her clever self-penned ditty were what we'd all been waiting for and what you didn't see on the telly was the 5-minute encore that ensued due to audience demand. Ms Spraggan could happily have settled in up on the stage and entertained us for the rest of afternoon such was the support for her.
For those that moan about a tired format and a talent pool drought, surely the likes of Lucy, Kye Sones and James Arthur are proof that there's life in the old dog yet.
Talking of dogs, over to the Celebrity Big Brother house... ouch! A telly triumph for Channel 5 and I'm ashamed to admit compulsory viewing for me. The star signing for this show and worth every penny of her fee, Dame Julie Goodyear. A caricature of herself and a firm favourite with her fellow housemates, Julie and her one-liners, secret bitching, surgically attached fag and matriarch status is everything the producers could possibly have hoped for.
Whoever got that booking signed off, I spy a promotion. However, watching the seductive banana-eating routine was quite possibly the most repulsive thing I've ever had to witness - Kinga and 'the bottle' had nothing on this!
With tension, arguments and love triangles dominating the 'storyline', we wait to see how the last week will unfold. Rhian's out, Jasmine's out, that leaves Danica with free rein to, er, rein her poor sap conquests in for more gameplay and flirting. This girl is a pro, so lads, touché!
It wasn't the best of starts when event organiser, Lembit Opik (yes really... Lembit Opik!) was refused entry from his own event and was made to stand outside on the pavement for 25 minutes before being begrudgingly let in by the burly door staff. Give him his dues, a very polite man and the fact he kept sending the canapé tray over to a very peckish me makes him pretty okay in my book.
The usual suspects on tap - a who's who of fly-on-the-wall telly - to name a few: Millie Mackintosh, Alex Reid, Spencer Matthews, Andrew Stone, Nicola McClean and the telly legend that is Keith 'Cheggers' Chegwin who tearfully accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award.
A night in the awards calendar to celebrate not only those ON screen, but a chance for the production teams and those off-screen to have the fruits of their labours recognised. A rare non-boozy event much to disgruntled comments from a few choice guests, I'm not sure the organisers planned to run out of refreshments before the ceremony had actually started, but a word of advice for next year's event perhaps: If you want to avoid a mutiny on your hands, bus in the Pinot Grigio and breadsticks by the lorry load. This lot are hardcore.
- Louis Walsh's odd clown hair comb over on The X Factor.
- The X Factor floor manager's pointless '3,2,1 cue' upon every contestants entrance.
- In CBB, Coleen surgically attached to her cup of tea, Jasmine and her Jimmy Saville 'jangle jangle', Ashley sacrificing his dignity in the Gods and Mortals task - mate, you did that when you signed the contract - and in response to Danica divulging she receives expensive gifts from fans, Julie pips her one better with 'I get sent toilet seats and pubic hair - I'm doing a good job'.
- EastEnders (weekday lunchtime 'house raves' - doesn't anyone have a job!), Sharon and her son 'Denny' - the most unconvincing and ill matched mother and son casting ever (the Sylvia Young RP accent doesn't help) - and Abby in the 'Enders 'I've been travelling' garb, with Jordan-esque fake tan and bleach hair to boot - my stepdaughter likened her to a Simpson and I have to agree, she wasn't far off.