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Hope – and glory

Chris Jason connects with the X Factor's “bad guy” after 18 weeks on an emotional rollercoaster

Published on December 17th 2007.

Hope – and glory

Simon Cowell is a really nice guy.

I’ve got to know him quite well during the last 18 weeks of The X Factor.

And it’s clear that beneath that smug, supercilious exterior and the loadsamoney leers at attractive contestants, there beats a heart of gold.

The X Factor Grand Final and inevitable Christmas Number One has now become as much a part of the great British festive tradition as that slightly panic-stricken feeling on Christmas Eve.

Deep down, Simon Cowell is an old softie. Remember how he connected big time with Brummie school dinner lady Niki who sang her heart out for her dead father?

Most of the time, too, he has been, to coin a favourite phrase, “bang on the money” about the contestants – demonstrating a sureness of touch which, unaccountably, seems to desert him in the personal fashion stakes. Despite his plunging necklines, I reckon me and Simon could spend a happy hour or two in the Grapes. We could even be best mates.

And perhaps that’s the secret of The X Factor’s success and its “must see TV” status.

We couldn’t help but connect with all the characters – both judges and contestants - in the soap-opera storylines which have been played out on our screens every Saturday night.

The X Factor Grand Final and inevitable Christmas Number One has now become as much a part of the great British festive tradition as that slightly panic-stricken feeling on Christmas Eve.

We root for the spotty lad from Scotland with the dodgy haircut, who is painfully shy and trembling.

Marvel at how the frumpy black girl is blossoming into a confident, kick-ass young woman.

Congratulate the initially pompous and arrogant Welsh windbag for gradually developing a softer, humbler, kinder, more reflective personality.

And when it is one of our own – like Manchester's Shayne Ward over here, or Liverpool’s Ray Quinn over there - we are right beside them on our settees, wincing at every put-down, wiping away an occasional tear and stifling a grin at every success.

Cheer when the astoundingly stupid Louis Walsh gets his come-uppance.

It is fascinating top class telly because it is such an emotional rollercoaster.

And it engages our humanity.

We side with the underdog.

Applaud surprising new talent.

Wish that dreams can come true.

Most of all, we find Hope in The X Factor.

And I don’t mean the girl group that surprisingly disappeared early doors.

But Hope that the underdog will become top dog, the deserving will win through and that talent will triumph.

Which of course, is not exactly what happened in the gripping Grand Final on Saturday night. Leon Jackson was clearly not the most talented X Factor contestant at all – indeed he hit so many flat notes in ‘White Christmas’ that it became a bit of an embarrassment at times. But he had the best human story – and it was full of hope.

The poor sensitive Scots lad who just wanted to change his beloved mum’s life for the better.

And every time those very human tears welled up in those big dark eyes, thousands more people picked up the phone. It was Hope that won him the audience votes and a £1million recording deal.

Although it obviously didn’t do him any harm to sing alongside the gorgeous Kylie who, post breast cancer battle, appears to now hold a stronger place in the nation’s affections than Princess Diana.

Even if Kylie’s (Cowell-influenced?) skin tight black lace outfit was a wonderfully bizarre folly.

Andy Warhol predicted (famously) that everyone would enjoy 15 minutes of fame in the future.

Thanks to the repeats, the frighteningly deluded nutters who provide the biggest laughs and most entertaining moments in the early rounds, already enjoy 15 minutes of well-deserved infamy.

But winners like Leon, who can connect to our humanity through that powerful screen in the corner, can look forward to a lot more.

At least that’s what we hope.

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ktfairyDecember 17th 2007.

Personally I hope that Leon loses all the money in a drug induced stupor - the guy lacked talent and charisma, but still won because the nation likes the underdog (it helps when it is a good looking dog). Rhydian should have won, same as Ray should have won last year, but it doens't pay to be actually good adn entertaining, you have to be insecure and whine a lot. Grr it makes me mad!

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