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Reality TV Blog

'X Factor' supersize weekends: Is it overkill?

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Producer A: "The ratings are falling, what on earth shall we do?" Producer B: "Let's make more of it."

The logic behind The X Factor's expansion to Saturdays and Sundays for its entire run in 2013 isn't exactly clear. Out of the long list of complaints about last year's series - dour judges, underwhelming finalists, Rylan - I don't ever remember anyone complaining that they could do with a whole extra round of auditions.

The X Factor 2013 judges Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Gary Barlow

© ITV / Thames/Syco

The X Factor 2013 judges



The return to intimate audition rooms was a wise move (even if it came a couple of years too late), but the producers and Cowell evidently weren't confident in the format change and have kept the arena auditions as an extra second round. Airing on Sundays after the Saturday show, you now get double your X Factor for your buck.

You can gorge yourself silly on the X Factor buffet on Saturday night, feasting on the weird and wonderful acts, the saccharine sob stories and Sharon Osbourne's cackling. And then, just when you think it's all over, out comes the dessert course on Sunday.

Like munching on a grotesquely sticky toffee pudding after an all-you-can-eat Chinese, by the time episode two was finished I felt like I needed an X Factor detox. No more Emeli Sandé. No more Louis Walsh. No more Scherzinger talking about balls. Make it stop. Please make it stop.

The judges Nicole Scherzinger, Gary Barlow, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh at 'The X Factor' Boom Camp auditions

© Rex Features / Tom Dymond/Thames

The judges at Boot Camp



The principle of the added arena auditions is that they allow the judges to see how the acts cope under pressure with a live audience. But couldn't they just see that at Boot Camp?

The standing ovations, the sweeping crowd shots and the jeopardy of seeing an act crack and crumble on the bigger stage is clearly attractive to viewers, but the Sunday show feels like a bit of a formality. A couple of acts may stumble at the second stage, but generally the singers who stun us on Saturday will impress again on Sunday.

We saw Sam Bailey move the judges in the intimate audition room and heard her life story in episode one. Did we really need another episode one day later featuring more of the same with added shots of her kids and her husband blubbing?

Watch the X Factor stars talk twerking, funniest moments and fifth judges:

The X Factor has always triumphed over its rivals because it makes us care about the acts involved. It's a skill the BBC's Voice UK has continually failed to achieve in both its first two series.

The expansion into Sundays for the audition rounds is clearly another method of encouraging viewers to engage with the acts and build emotional attachments to them.

But do we really need nearly two-and-a-half hours every weekend to make us care about the singers? The X Factor is one of the slickest and smartest productions in TV. It doesn't need to ram every act, every angle and every sob story down our throats and it's always much worse for it when it does.

Of course, the extra Sunday helping of The X Factor will still rate much higher than anything else that was going to air in that slot for ITV. So for the bean counters and X Factor PR machine it will probably be labelled a hit. In the long-term, however, I fear this 'Supersized X Factor' may lead some viewers to reach for their remotes suffering from reality TV fatigue.

Did you enjoy the new supersized X Factor weekends? Have your say below

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