The Y Factor
Sunday, September 20, 2009 by Steve Williams
What’s Jeremy Hunt MP, Shadow Culture Secretary, discussing here?
“This is the latest ridiculous decision by the BBC – proof that something is going wrong at the broadcaster”. Is it someone swearing again, or BBC Worldwide getting too involved in commercial activities? Of course not – it’s about Strictly vs X Factor.
What a pointless dicussion this has become, but Hunt isn’t the only one who’s been lured in to commenting on it (although he’s definitely the one who should be most ashamed of himself, as you’d think he had more important things to discuss). Here comes national speaker of common sense and, it appears, Controller of ITV Simon Cowell, who under the not-at-all-melodramatic headline ‘The BBC has let Britain down’ writes in The Sun to say, “I’m happy to chair a meeting with someone from the BBC and someone from ITV and I genuinely think we can solve this within twenty minutes.” Thank God Simon’s here to sort things out. And for shame, here’s Declan Donnelly, who you’d hope would have the wit and perspective not to treat some scheduling issue as the end of the BBC, making an almighty leap of logic by suggesting, “This whole business is sickening… the BBC are supposed to be a public service broadcaster and I don’t see much of the public service going on at the moment, which is a real shame.” That’s exactly what it is, Dec. Because Strictly has replaced Panorama and all news bulletins and… oh, hang on. No it hasn’t.
What a shame Dec has fallen for some shameless ITV spinning. It looks like the BBC is being blamed for all of this, when nobody’s pointed out that in previous weeks, The X Factor has begun at 7pm. This week, it was abruptly moved to 8pm, where the clash with Strictly has therefore become more pronounced. This is, of course, the same ITV that’s so concerned about what’s best for the viewer that it spent much of the last two years scheduling Emmerdale up against EastEnders every single week.
The Beeb have rightly pointed out that the two shows have actually gone up against each other on forty previous occasions. Sadly, because they didn’t do it last year, ITV have now been able to get away with muder because they don’t think anyone’s boring and pedantic enough to remember this, let alone go through old listings and point this out. But there’s nobody more boring and pedantic than me, so let’s take a look at some Saturday nights from 2005…
Saturday 22nd October – Strictly 6.15pm, The X Factor 6.15pm
Saturday 29th October – Strictly 6.35pm, The X Factor 6.15pm
Saturday 5th November – Strictly 6.35pm, The X Factor 6.15pm
Saturday 11th November – Strictly 6.20pm, The X Factor 6.50pm
Then we can also look at 2006…
Saturday 14th October – Strictly 5.50pm, The X Factor 5.50pm
Saturday 21st october – Strictly 5.45pm, The X Factor 5.45pm
Saturday 28th October – Strictly 5.40pm, The X Factor 5.45pm
Saturday 4th November – Strictly 5.45pm, The X Factor 5.45pm
And just to really hammer the point home, in 2007…
Saturday 6th October – Strictly 6.15pm, The X Factor 6.45pm
Saturday 20th October – Strictly 5.45pm, The X Factor 5.45pm
Saturday 27th October – Strictly 5.45pm, The X Factor 5.45pm
Now I don’t recall a grandstanding publicity-hungry MP feeling moved to comment on any of those occasions, possibly because ITV weren’t quite so desperate for ratings and publicity and feeding the papers a load of rubbish about the Beeb.
Regardless, the general point is that Strictly remains by far the better programme than The X Factor. For all the idea that Strictly’s audience is elderly and boring compared to the hip young gunslingers watching ITV, Strictly is way more daring and innovative in terms of musical choices – they danced to the Kings of Leon on Friday night, after The Gossip and The Killers have been on the soundtrack in previous series, while The X Factor won’t feature anything that’s not on heavy rotation on Smooth FM. And in Brucie, we’ve got the most compelling and anarchic presenter on telly – whether it’s egging on the audience in an impromptu Vera Lynn singalong or repeating jokes (and letting the running order go to pot) until they get the laugh he feels they deserve, you can’t take your eyes off him. He really doesn’t give a toss. And, of course, he’s been in this business long enough to know that this type of scheduling war is not a new thing – what about when his Big Night went up against the Generation Game in 1978?
Funnily enough, The X Factor managed to beat Strictly in the ratings, after all ITV’s bleating, so what’s the betting we’ll see these arguments about “serving the public” quietly fade away over the next few weeks, and Cowell stop being quite so concerned about his mum, who apparently loves both?
Regardless of all the arguments, though, one thing is for certain – Jeremy Hunt is a complete idiot who has got far too much time on his hands and had been taken in by some complete guff from the ITV press office. Do some bloody work, man!