Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

The X Factor

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Has the world gone mad? I turn my back for five minutes, and Diana goes favourite? I went to the Cheltenham Festival to talk about my dad’s book, came back,and everything’s upside down. Diana’s a nice girl and everything, but not an X Factor winner. Does nobody remember that blonde girl who sang Cry Me A River a few years ago? Great singer, quirky voice, very contemporary, very sweet. I forget her name. That just about sums it up. I’ll be laying Diana at 3.7. And I’m still pressing on Austin, whose price I’m sure doesn’t reflect his chances of longer survival. Also, sadly, this week I think I’ll have to back Single Father Daniel for eviction. The judges underestimated how far his touching story would carry him, when his voice clearly struggles against the others - and it could yet carry him through another couple of weeks. But I think this is the week when we start looking for his name to come up in the bottom two…

  (I also loved the debate about whether Ruth was in the bottom two because she didn’t sing in Spanish. Hilarious. Obviously it was that baggy top. Ruth’s breasts garnered a large vote in week one. But, for the breasts to stand a proper chance in this competition, voters need to be able to see them. With the right outfits, those breasts could make week five. If they could be trained to do the “Please phone” mime on Ruth’s behalf, who knows how far they could go. It’s almost unfair that Ruth should be in a solo artists category, when the breasts surely constitute a group by themselves. They could be the Same Difference of 2008. But if mentor Danni insists on hiding them under a binliner, they will be overlooked when the phones start ringing. The breasts simply must be allowed to show their range, to go on a journey, to improve drastically since the beginning of the competition, to work outside their comfort zone, and possibly to cry and wave at their mother in the crowd.)

  (I’d like to note that I am passing on that advice with my gambler’s hat on. My feminist hat has been left temporarily on the coat hook.)


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Eisuke at 1:15 am on October 21st, 2008

Victoria, with your gambler’s hat on, what do you think about the judges voting system? 

If I hear ‘deadlock’ again this week I will have to restrain myself from throwing something towards the vicinity of my screen… 

I know I’m probably being too virtuous hoping for the judges to actually vote off the worst act each week…

But from a betting point of view, would you say it is easier predicting the public vote, or trying to predict whether Simon will able to stop thinking about the Spanish lady(ies) for 5 minutes, call people by their correct name and vote properly?

Victoria Coren at 1:49 am on October 21st, 2008

Oh, I’m more cynical… I think it was obvious that Ruth’s 2nd song was a million times better, but Simon already knew the result of the public vote, so he could “throw it to deadlock” for more excitement and the same result.

  As for the name, it was interesting that he called Rachel “Diana”. I don’t think you can really blame him when she’d just sung “Dirty Diana” - a bloody stupid choice for someone who’s trying to win a prime time family talent show with a back story of prison, heroin addiction and children in care… I mean Jesus, given her freedom to choose what to do, she decided to leap about on a motor cycle screaming about being a bad person. Did she just discover she had a vital prior engagement in week six?!

Eisuke at 1:06 am on October 22nd, 2008

Wow, I wonder whether Simon, Cheryl and co were handed scripts showing possible terrorist insertion points upon the live show on Saturday… ‘Deadlock’ somehow not a big deal any more!

If watching the show on TV is deemed a “form of hatred” I wonder whether lightning will strike me down on the way to work for further commenting on such a show here on this site… I truely hope not.

On the bright side, with X ray machines now installed to ward off any potential terrorists at the X Factor gates, I’m hoping like you say Victoria that any unecessary motor bike madness will be promptly detected and true talent left to shine.  Though I guess there is always the fear that Rachel may choose to sing Michael Jackson ‘Smooth Criminal’...

Fitch at 1:30 am on October 23rd, 2008

Surely it is only fair that Ruth should be allowed to share the milk of human kindness for longer.

Paul Dettman at 1:43 pm on October 23rd, 2008

I saw you at Cheltenham! It was a captivating conversation between Giles and yourself, but I’m far too young to remember your dad’s early years. So I have just opened the book with a glass of Wychwood Honey’d Ale and the log fire going. The funny thing is the logs seem a little too damp to be successful in a fire, having been left out through the wet summer, but I did try for the ideal ambience.

Victoria Coren at 6:50 pm on October 23rd, 2008

Hi Paul, thanks for your lovely message. As you get to know my old man better, over the coming pages, you will discover that slightly damp wood, which stubbornly refuses to catch properly, thus creating a mild (perhaps growing) domestic frustration, makes for a MUCH more ideal ambience than perfect crackly logs. His world is full of the tiny annoyances of daily life. You’ve got it bang on, and I hope the book gives you lots of laughs. Very best wishes VC

David R at 6:50 pm on October 24th, 2008

What with the judges going to ever more exotic locations to pick their final acts for the live shows, I was wondering where they could go next year to be even more spectacular.

I was thinking that Dannii (along with Emma Bunton) could go to the moon (they would fly in separate space rockets to the acts, of course, and be already there when the contestants landed to welcome them). They could then sing with their space suits on, holding special moon microphones, and you would hear them in transistor radio quality. And then Dermot would literally bound over to the contestants after they sang to greet and console them and give them huge space hugs.

David R at 6:52 pm on October 24th, 2008


And then Simon Cowell could host his acts in a special underwater fortress in the Pacific Ocean, with glass walls everywhere showing sharks swimming all around. If he didn’t like an act, he could press a button which would eject the contestant into the ocean, and to the aforementioned sharks.

And then with Louis Walsh, he could have his contestants go to a country house in Ireland.

What do you think????!!!???!!!??!??!?

Tom Richards at 7:00 pm on October 24th, 2008

Vicky, to be honest i think the xfactor is garbage after the first few weeks when all the nutters are free to roam. Just wanted to say that your a great ambassador for female players, as well as being a great player yourself. Thanks Vicky your an inspiration for all poker players including myself. Good luck for the future Vicky!

Mike at 8:32 pm on October 25th, 2008

Looks like Danni/Ruth are reading the blog….the ‘group’ was back in fine form this week!

Fitch at 9:30 pm on October 25th, 2008

I’ve just spent the last two days cellabrating my mother and fathers diamond wedding. Elizabeth sent them a card!! Makes you realise how special time spent is.

Ralph Tritt at 6:10 pm on October 26th, 2008

Sound advice, Victoria. But will you heed it for future broadcasts of Only Connect? I am, of course, wearing my sexist hat, or titfer.

David R at 10:27 pm on October 29th, 2008

Now that their showbiz careers are over (Russell Brand now models woolly hats in men’s catalogues; Jonathan Ross has to appear in the audience of A Question of Sport to be seen on TV; the Satanic Sluts now appear on primetime BBC1; and Georgina Baillie does the numbers on Countdown), perhaps Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand should go on the X Factor to resurrect their careers. They now have the perfect tragic back-story:

(Music: Coldplay’s Trouble playing on an oboe in the background):

“Russell and Jonathan were successful TV personalities, when in late 2008, disaster struck” (cue Fawlty Towers clip).

David R at 9:56 pm on October 31st, 2008

Hi Vicky, thanks for posting my musings.

As regards the X Factor, I think Austin is technically the best singer in the competition, but after her Purple Rain, I’d like Ruth to win.

If you want to see a funny impression of Diana, then go to 7.25 of this video:

david at 5:42 pm on February 5th, 2010

    Just read your book…excellent on gambling and also non gambling levels.
David [ another one ! ][ not my choice but fine with it…would only change for Xavier….btw,what would you change to? ]

Jesslyn at 7:40 am on October 25th, 2011

Son of a gun, this is so helfupl!

Victoria Coren

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