The X-Factor, that terrifying combination of talent contest, freak show and Roman ampitheatre, is gearing up for its next series. According to my dazed and bewildered memory, this will be its eight-hundreth edition, and before long every single person in the country will have participated in at least one episode, if necessary being forcibly bundled into a broom cupboard at ITV and made to sing a cruel and unusual karaoke version of California Dreaming.
However, it turns out that some people actually choose to go on the wretched thing, and one of them is my aunt, a genuine showbiz type whose hands you might recognise if you’ve ever spent a day watching QVC. No, I don’t know why you would have, but you never know. This aunt is decidedly good at making a tuneful racket, and armed with a gaggle of old-school showtunes and a willingness to get stuck in (I quote Dermot O’Leary: ‘I bet she doesn’t lose many arguments’) she managed to sashay through to what I think was the fourth round of the show.
I don’t know how far this is in X-Factor terms, but there was a studio audience (four million sixteen-year-olds, who when not screaming, chanting or cheering spent the evening examining their neighbours to make sure their elaborate outfits hadn’t gone out of fashion since recording started), lots of cameras, and a reasonable degree of havoc.