TV Times - X marks end of an era

COULD we really be witnessing the beginning of the end of the X Factor?

All the ridiculous furore over the judging panel certainly suggests talent show Armageddon is coming.

No Simon, no Cheryl and no Dannii – leaving charisma vacuum Louis Walsh as the only returnee.

Cowell took the decision to concentrate on the American version, which he had no problem selling to Cheryl.

Unfortunately, if reports are to be believed, he had plenty of problems selling Cheryl to the Americans.

If the wide use of subtitles in US television is anything to go by, Americans can’t even understand their own people – particularly from the Deep South – so what chance have they got with a Geordie.

Dannii passed on a return, probably on the realisation that without the two main judging stars on board, things were likely to take a downturn.

If Dannii Minogue decides she’s abandoning your ship, the outlook is seriously bleak.

Jumping aboard are Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa from N-Dubz.

While Barlow is undoubtedly a brilliant song writer, he is hardly blessed with charisma.

Rowland is far too smiley and nicey, nicey – while the jury is certainly out on Tulisa who probably will either try too hard to be different or fall into the safe zone.

Should the change in judging panel prove the start of the X Factor downfall, it will only be the fault of the producers.

Not for making the wrong choices regarding replacement judges, but for making the show all about the panel in the first place.

Britain’s Got Talent has barely suffered from losing Cowell and Piers Morgan.

Viewing figures have held strong, even denting the likes of the Apprentice during the live run last week.

This is because the actual talent side of the competition is paramount above everything else, something which cannot be said of the X Factor.

The entire format is based on the judges having a central role, rather than simply offering an opinion.

They have a vested interest in the success of the acts because they are mentoring them as well as judging.

Decisions on the songs sung in the live finals are rested at their door, so they are never out of the spotlight.

Messing with a successful formula could prove disastrous, especially with the added star power those departing brought to the table.

X Factor has been on rocky ground for several years now but has somehow managed to hold its audience.

The initial special treatment of Diana Vickers in 2008, the campaign to prevent winner Joe McElderry going to number one in 2009 and the auto-tune controversy of last year all showed chinks in the seemingly impenetrable armour of this TV giant.

X Factor certainly will not die quickly and you would expect Cowell to intervene should a decline come.

But it is not difficult to predict there will be a decline this year.

We could very easily be coming towards the end of an era in popular television.

Audiences are more demanding than ever with hundreds of channels at their disposal.

If the viewer does not like, he or she will switch on a repeat of Friends or something.

Giants will fall.