added: 16 Oct 2013 // by: Simon Fitzpatrick
Whether you believe Simon Cowell's pop juggernaut The X Factor to be just good old-fashioned Saturday night fun; a glitzy showcase for genuinely talented newcomers; or a cynically motivated, brutally executed cavalcade of mediocrity, you have to respect its momentum as it rumbles relentlessly down Entertainment Highway, smearing everything in its path across the metaphorical tarmac. Well, everything except Strictly Come Dancing, which is currently nudging ahead in the ratings battle.
Now in its tenth year, the show has churned its way through hundreds of contestants, and quite a few judges as well. Controversy has been its constant companion. Without controversy, it would be a largely disappointing karaoke competition, if no more so than any other karaoke competition. It's been dogged by accusations of vote-rigging and fixing for years. Contestant Rhydian Roberts claimed that he was made to look 'like an idiot' during his run on season 4, despite the fact that he finished second overall. In the same year, voting in the final was affected by technical issues leading to some viewers' votes going unrecorded ' although they were given a refund by ITV eventually.
'The public do not decide who is going to win', the unforgettable Wagner was reported to have told a friend in 2010. 'It is Simon Cowell.' During the same season, contestant Katie Waissel was discovered to have had links with Sony's talent spotters some years earlier. While host Dermot O'Leary denied any kind of fixing was going on in 2011, a Huffington Post poll had 68% of respondents answering 'Yes, I don't believe any of it is real' to the question 'Do you think The X Factor is fixed?'
Last season we were treated to the really quite edifying spectacle of judge Gary Barlow walking off the set, claiming he did so in response to further allegations of fixing by the producers. 'The two things I worry about are the contestants and the fans', he said. 'The idea of it being a fix, I hate stuff like that.'
Despite all the rumours and counter-claims, people continue to bet on the show. There are large sums of cash to be won if you can pick a winner. William Hill have recently accepted a £5000 wager on Tamera Foster. If you fancy a punt on the X Factor winners 2013, there's a range of betting options including Outright Winner, Best Girl and Top 3 Finish.
A week before last season's final, it was reported that if Chris Maloney triumphed, the nation's bookies were to pay out at least £1,000,000; and that's before viewers had bet an expected further million over the final weekend.
Maybe the controversy itself is manufactured? It's all publicity...
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