After four long months, it finally over. The monster beats human Honey Monster beat warbling Theo Walcott and the orange Incredible Hulk to become the nation karaoke champion. By which I mean that James Arthur saw off Jahmazing Jermajesty Douglas and off-duty Scouse drag queen Christopher Maloney to take The X Factor crown.
It was the right result: Arthur is the most musically gifted, most charismatic and most normal of the three finalists. Certainly the only one you can imagine going for a pint with. His triumph also gives hope everywhere to awkward lunks with donkey teeth and Deirdre Barlow specs.
The real series winner, however, was judge Nicole Scherzinger, who mentored the top two acts. Previously known only as a glorified stripper who pretends to date Lewis Hamilton, Scherzy recast herself as the nation favourite insane big sister. Even LouLou Walsh admitted last ight that she was the show best mentor ever. She also invented a whole new nonsensical language (see last night jah-jazzled, shamazeballs all over the place and in your face wept at the drop of a hat, seemed tipsy at times but was the only judge who looked like she was remotely enjoying herself. Along with Rylan Clark (who reappeared last night, fur-clad and honking out Wham! from a sleigh pulled by topless hunks), she was a rare ray of ridiculous sunshine in what became a funereal few months.
The series voting stats were released last night and make for surprisingly fascinating reading, mainly because Baloney was way out in front for seven weeks of the nine. Mr Shaky Hands Man slipped down the standings in late November possibly because apathetic viewers were spurred into voting by the shock exit of Ella Henderson, possibly linked to the negative Maloney stories that started mysteriously appearing in the press when it looked like he might win. No wonder he's fuming, you might think, but it hard to have much sympathy for the thick-necked, nan-fixated singing baked bean.
So what now for Simon Cowell ailing franchise? Ratings are down several million and the show is at risk of entering inexorable decline, so expect big changes next year. Scherzinger is the only judge who deserves to keep her place, but the entire panel could change. Cowell has reportedly been trying to persuade Sharon Osbourne and Dannii Minogue to return. He love Cheryl Cole back too but her suing the US version for unfair dismissal puts the kibosh on that. Gobby Spice Girl Mel B, after she entertained and irritated in equal measure as a guest judge this year, is also in the frame.
The hirsute svengali might need to ride to the rescue himself, like he did by returning to Britain Got Talent last year. All he needs then is a male judge to bounce off/bicker with flirtatiously, a la David Walliams. Don be surprised if Noel Gallagher or Robbie Williams gets the call. Or because Cowell obsessed with yoof and credibility, could he even ask someone like Dizzee Rascal? ITV might also move the show earlier in the schedules, so it not asking kids to stay up til 10pm and can become a ready to go out background watch, like Blind Date back in the day or Take Me Out these days. Although this would mean going head-to-head with the resurgent Strictly.
Cowell should also seriously consider making the show shorter. The hour-long audition shows work fine but once the contest reaches the later stages and they bloat to two hours plus results show, they start to seriously test our patience. This weekend final was four hours spread over two nights. Last night epic, which was basically just announcing a name, was preposterously padded at two hours. An hour or 90 minutes would have upped the pace, kept us interested and meant we could switch over for Homeland afterwards. Greed is good, in Cowell and the commercial broadcaster eyes, but viewer goodwill counts too.
In the meantime, Arthur releases his winner single a respectable if plodding rendition of Impossible by Shontelle and gets to bask in the glory of being the first contender ever to bounce back from appearing in the bottom two and win. After that, well It time! To face! The dentist! Then try to avoid becoming the next Matt Cardle. Good luck, big guy.
Asking Tom Cruise about soccerball is a Risky Business
Well, that was a Sunday afternoon treat no-one expected: an exclusive interview with thumb-sized A-lister Tom Cruise and grizzled Godfather actor Robert Duvall. So who was asking the questions here? Letterman? Parky? Wossy? Norton? Nope, it was Sky Sports touchline doughball Geoff Shreeves on Super Sunday coverage of the Manchester derby. Cruise had come to watch the at the behest of buddy David Beckham and got collared for a chat in the players tunnel, which must have given him Jerry Maguire flashbacks.
Shreeves asked the Cruiser his thoughts on the game, which was a bit like eliciting his opinions on being tall. It was a cringe-making bit of TV worthy of Alan Partridge but fortunately, Duvall saved the day. Despite asking, there a shootout if there's a tie?" (cut him monster beats headphones some slack, he 81 and mainly watches World Cups), he knows his football, having starred alongside Ally McCoist in 2001 football film A Shot At Glory, and gave a heartfelt tribute to Lisbon Lions hero Wee Jimmy Johnstone.
Sadly, the match itself was too eventful for the commentators to crowbar in many gratuitous Cruise gags. I was looking forward to a City comeback being Impossible Roberto Mancini needing Sheikh Mansour to him the money during the transfer window or injured Shinji Kagawa being called Lost Samurai Still, Rio Ferdinand did have his Eyes Wide Shut as that coin hit him.
There goes The Fear
Brighton gangster saga The Fear, stripped across four nights on Channel 4 last week, was a late contender for British dramas of 2012 lists, probably nudging into the top ten. Peter Mullan gave a commanding, BAFTA-worthy performance as the crime boss losing his mind to Alzheimers, lurching from menace to vulnerability. As his sons, Harry Lloyd (aka villainous Viserys Targaryen from Game Of Thrones) pouted charismatically, while Paul Nicholls (aka Mad Joe Wicks from EastEnders) didn wear a tinfoil hat or mention Satan once. But why was this stylish, classy and clearly pretty costly production scheduled so daftly? Few people can commit to four nights in a row, let alone in early December when there boozing/gift-buying/more boozing to do. Ratings reflected this, with a disappointing 800,000 tuning in. A wonderful drama but a rather wasted one.
In case you have luxurious taste