This week one and a half million odd people who tuned in watch the NSW fork lift driver Altiyan Childs take the top prize on the X Factor.

Let the staged display of emotion begin. Picture: Noel Kessel width=

Finally Seven got the kind of ratings they had surely been hoping to snag for their big-budget import throughout the season after an overwhelmingly apathetic response from viewers.

As the series limped along, each week it failed to reach the stratospheric numbers the network must have been praying for after shelling out that sort of big bucks.

The X Factor has now been relegated to the long list of foreign imports the networks have shelled out seven or eight figures for in the hope of ratings gold.

Our networks have a long and not -so- proud history of getting cheque-book happy when it comes to bagging international franchises and our screens are littered with reworked, reskinned US, UK and European formats.

In the UK the current series of the X Factor has garnered the sort of fanatical devotion rarely seen outside of religious movements and Elvis conventions. Viewing numbers regularly top 13 million and the singers left vying for the top spot now knock David Cameron off the front page.

But it’s a curious question - why do some of our small screen imports translate into must-see viewing but others leaves us squirming as we fumble to find the remote to make it all stop?

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact we have enough B-grade soapie stars and retired sportspeople happy to frock up in sequined glory and gamely humiliate themselves on our version of Dancing with the Stars.

Likewise it seems our nation can boast a proud swag of overweight individuals willing to submit to weeks of ritualistic punishment on an exercise bike in the name of “better health” on the Biggest Loser.

Big Brother proved a cash cow for Network Ten for a number of years before Gretel Killeen’s hairdo jumped the shark. Seems our nation’s young and libidinous are more than happy to flirt, frolic and fiddle beneath doonas for a couple of months to keep the Big Brother fires burning.

This year Australia’s Next Top Model clattered off the runway after its sixth season with only the occasional live gaffe, our pretty young things being, well, pretty and young.

It seems in the past few years we have gotten a taste for snatching our requisite 15 minutes of fame, cheerfully sharing our egotism, insecurities and vanity for our mutual viewing pleasure.

It’s a skill we’ve picked up courtesy of a decade’s intensive education via US and UK reality series. We’ve been thoroughly schooled in the equation whereby a lashing of TV degradation and the odd makeover brings with it a modicum of fame and the occasional cheque.

But, when it comes to series like the X Factor that demand genuine talent, we are found wanting. Shows like the X Factor and Australian Idol demand that indefinable quality that wows audiences, quells critics and makes fans cue in sleet.

We have a finite talent pool in this country. There are only so many great voices undiscovered, only so many genuinely gifted musicians tucked away in suburban cul-de-sacs waiting for their moment to brush off the cat hair and wow a la Susan Boyle.

Australian Idol might have given us Guy Sebastian, but a ratings slump in recent years for the production heavy, costly series saw Network Ten give the show the flick in 2010. Two million less people tuned in to watch Stan Walker (I’m with you, who?) win in 2009 than when Sebastian crowned as our Idol at the end of the first series in 2003.

Channel Seven is in the midst of producing its first home spun season of The Amazing Race.

The burning is question is will our contestants prove as enthrallingly xenophobic, vain, irascible, and revoltingly rude to taxi drivers the world over as their American counterparts?

I’m willing to bet yes.

Most commented


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    • Trevor Hungerford says:

      05:35am | 24/11/10

      How about a decent show the exhibits local music talent. Get some semi to well established bands\performers across multiple genres and just let them play. No contests, prizes or eliminations. Just a platform for good music. How hard is it to simply entertain people.

    • T.Chong says:

      07:51am | 24/11/10

      Bring back “Young Talent Time ” you reckon , Trev ?
      Or better still, “The Gong Show”.

    • adam macleod says:

      12:12pm | 24/11/10

      Good call, Trevor.  I’m with you.

    • acotrel says:

      03:31pm | 24/11/10

      For quality TV, it’s difficult to beat a BBC production.  Perhaps an Australian company should take over the rights for The Bill, and they could sneak in a few old episodes of Homicide to cut costs?  How about ‘MasterCop’ for a title? It could star Daryl Somers ?

    • acotrel says:

      03:38pm | 24/11/10

      Trevor, Rockwiz wasn’t too bad, if you didn’t mind listening to only a few bars at a time from the band?  I’ve just lost my satellite access to Ovation channel through SelecTV.  What a disaster.  For a while I was able to get access t o Dutch, and Rumania n TV shows with music content.  I’m currently trying to find a decoder card to get other European channels, so I’m not forced to watch exclusively Australian TV.  When we get the NBN .........

    • Trevor Hungerford says:

      04:54pm | 24/11/10

      A good example is Later with Jools Holland on the BBC which we show on ABC here. All I can say in thank god for SBS and ABC

    • Carolyn says:

      06:37pm | 24/11/10

      How about the reality programme ‘CPA’? Witness the agony and exultantion wihtin a Certified Practising Accountant’s waiting room?

      Or better yet, how about ‘Dancing with the 20 to 1 Better Gnomes in Gardens’???

      Can’t wait for my Gold Logie!!

    • S.L says:

      06:07am | 24/11/10

      So the X factor is huge in Britain. So what? This is a place who thinks Peter Andre and his artificially enhanced ex are superstars! Neighbours and Home and Away are played twice daily and one of the top rating pay tv sports is darts!
      Why do programers in this country think we’ll just follow like sheep? They are obviously getting paid too much! Why don’t they develope their own shows?
      Now you tell us channel 7 is producing a local version of the amazing race. Australian yuppies copying their American bretheren in a race around the world (and of course none of the scarey incidents will be staged!) for a ridiculous cash prize. Well I suppose it will get an audience if the tweens that watch the aforementioned soapies are allowed to stay up another hour or so!

    • AusinUK says:

      05:02pm | 24/11/10

      Peter Andre and Katie are not ‘superstars’ over here. They are celebrities and that word celebrity generally means they are a waste of space.  Perhaps what is different with the XFactor over here is we have the likes of Simon Cowell orchestrating the whole production and many viewers get sucked into it.

    • Samuel says:

      07:25am | 24/11/10

      In general I agree with this article.  Though I would point out that the winner, Altiyan, was the exception to the overall lack of talent on the show.  He is a genuinely good singer and performer and was in a completely different league to anyone else on the show.

    • Denny Crane says:

      10:00pm | 24/11/10


      Are you sure, he couldnt even remember the words of the song in the final, not something i would pay to see

    • Simon says:

      08:18am | 27/11/10

      you have to be kidding!! If Mr Altiyan is “the winner” then that is PROOF we have simply run out of singing talent.
      Although I must admit he did provide “squirm” entertainment.

    • Macca says:

      07:36am | 24/11/10

      Reality TV has hit a new cringe-worthy high with Beauty and the Geek. A trainwreck of a show if I have ever seen one. And I can’t get enough!

    • AV says:

      08:07am | 24/11/10

      I heartily agree. The X Factor didnt have the elusive X factor. Way to much time was spent on the frolics of Natalie, Guy, the bad tempered Kyle guy from that radio show, and that nice looking Pommie guy instead of on the actual talent.

    • Tara says:

      11:33am | 24/11/10

      you mean that nice looking Irish guy…

    • Lauren says:

      08:30am | 24/11/10

      Wasn’t the X Factor already tried here on Channel 10 a few years ago? It failed then, why did channel 7 think it could work now?

    • Golden Balls rules says:

      08:33am | 24/11/10

      England’s current weather is -10 and snow blizzards, the poor buggers only have tv, so if you don’t want to watch soapies (and by goodness they have a huge amount of them), this genre is about all that is on. Ooo and game shows, they have bucket loads of them too - look out for the train crash of 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show.

      Not buying that there isn’t a dozen decent undiscovered entertainers in a population of 20 million. I think it is more a case of X is like the rest of the unknown entertainer genre which has struggled to interest people lately, the same reason Idol got canned.

    • K says:

      10:26am | 24/11/10

      Really?  Because I’m quite sure that the average temp in the UK right now is +8 degrees with no snow in sight… People in the UK like these shows because the contestants have talent, rather than the rubbish served up over here.

    • Emilia says:

      08:46am | 24/11/10

      X-actor and Idol are rubbish shows that fatten (sometimes) the wallets of TV Execs and sells advertisement. I for one hate these shows. They are a breading an un-intelligent brain dead generations of talentless people who think that they are all artists, when clearly they are not. X-factor or Z-factor showed that really it was a big fat farce, not one single contestant had the talent to go international.  The winner would last less than a year at a local RSL club. When will these tabloid trashy commercial TV channels learn that these shows only interest 12-15 year old giddy mindless kids who live on their parents money.  I say to hell with these voting crap and put on a good professional show where we see real artists who are actually talented who are grinding it day in day out at clubs, pubs, lounges and cafes. That is where the real talent lies., not this fake karoke shows.

    • Music lover of NSW says:

      08:58am | 24/11/10

      It should not be forgotten that some viewers just happened to enjoy the ‘X’ factor. I’ve seen and heard worse singing in my time, and if those posting can sing better than ATiyan, Sally, Andrew, or Mahogany then please stand up! and show us what you can do! Bet you can not sing to save yourselves
      and those subject to a solo performance will take cover before the glass mirrors CRACK!!! Perfect star performance does not just automatically happen, requires training, practice, coaching, development! and opportunities to perform before a live audience. Yes! I could sit here bagging the X factor all day too, but I choose to adopt a constructive positive approach. Good on Prime TV! and good on every entrant who took the steps of courage to enter the X Factor despite being voted off. Some of us viewers appreciated the X factor out here! and who can complain over the kick start it gives to performers who otherwise would remain anonymous and unknown?

    • Lazy Jesus says:

      10:34am | 24/11/10

      Q - “and who can complain over the kick start it gives to performers who otherwise would remain anonymous and unknown?”

      A - Just about every talented musician that has been slogging it out on the pub scene for years on end that don’t get TV gigs because they don’t play pathetic top 40 pop covers.

    • Ross Corrigan says:

      09:02am | 24/11/10

      Once all these singers, and these days it appears everyone can sing, have had their 3 seconds of fame where do they end up? Touring RSL or Leagues Clubs? Working on cruise ships?? Can someone tell me if a single one of the winners or runners up etc have gone on to a real lasting career?

    • Shifter says:

      05:12pm | 24/11/10

      So far? Guy Sebastian is the best Australia’s had. Everyone else including Shannon Noll have had decently forgettable careers following.

      Kelly Clarkson is the only one to really make an impact internationally for an extended from the Idol/Factor market, which says a lot given the machine that’s behind these winners in the US.

    • Mr Pod says:

      09:21am | 24/11/10

      X factor is an evening at the RSL with cameras and part of the entertainment industry and nothing to do with music, big difference.

    • bored says:

      09:24am | 24/11/10

      I think it is much like Top Gear.  The original, UK version is what we want.  Not some “Australian” version with less funny people doing less interesting gags.  We want the real deal, not a substitute.

    • HappyCynic says:

      03:54pm | 24/11/10

      I agree.  Most Australian “talent” that hosts these shows have the less personality combined than an inanimate carbon rod smile

      Just look at the travesty that is the Aussie version of Iron Chef and compare it to the “so bad it’s bloody brilliant” Japanese version for the ultimate disparity between personalities.  US gameshow hosts are a bit better and the Poms can either be very, very good or very, very bad. 

      Aussies are just bland

    • PeterMax says:

      10:05am | 24/11/10

      How Altiyan won with his limited appeal but perhaps strong support base apart from win at any cost Ronan, is beyond me when entrants with such broad appeal as Sally, Andrew and others did not win.  I expect that as has happened in the past Sally and Andrew who did not win, and perhaps others will do better in the real world than Altiyan.

    • dancan says:

      10:30am | 24/11/10

      Australian Iron Chef.  Bad, bad, bad.

      This show changed from two top class chef’s competing against each other to produce the best dishes possible in an hour, to the Australian version of three a side teams producing one dish each per chef in some stupid ready, steady cook style tv show

    • AJ says:

      10:34am | 24/11/10

      I can’t wait for the Australian Amazing Race! I just hope it has the same high production values as the US version and doesn’t see the contestants going no further than Bali or New Zealand in their race around the “world”.

      I’m sure they were able to find plenty of fame-seekers and freaks for the teams of token characters. It will be interesting to see whether any of them can possibly be as ignorant as some of the American participants who often and loudly bemoan the lack of English speaking locals (particularly taxi drivers) and less than perfect hygeine levels of foreign nations.

    • DJB says:

      03:25pm | 24/11/10

      I love the Amazing Race as well.  Seen The Amazing Race Asia?  It’s brilliant hopefully the Australian one will be too.

    • ibast says:

      10:58am | 24/11/10

      Thankfully it looks like reality TV is starting to burn out.  They pushed big brother too far.  They pushed match shows too far.  They pushed renovation shows too far. Now they’ve pushed talent shows too far. Next we will be sick of the cooking shows.

      The problem is, what is the alternative?  Not only is drama production expensive, recent efforts have proven that Australia isn’t very good at it.

    • Alyssa KT says:

      11:32am | 24/11/10

      “Cue in sleet”??? Queue* !!!

      P.s. You’ll find Reality TV as post #91 on Things Bogans Like (blog site)

    • Reg says:

      11:59am | 24/11/10

      Such a pity we’ve all got inside toilets now. It would have sounded so much better if it was won by a night-soil carter. Having the drum whisked from under your bare arse, now that’s reality.  wink  The word talent is up for a serious revision starting with that of the television originators.

      It’s certainly been interesting to watch the standards fall until the “Standard Viewer” will accept anything as long as it’s cheap to produce and there are hooks to hang the commercials on.

      The one that sticks out for me was the Australian (Melbourne) attempt to imitate the New York “Cash Cab” series. There are no words to describe how dreadful the Aussie one was by comparison.  Bogans talking to bogans.  I’ll try anyway, “PATHETIC”

    • Anne Ti says:

      12:34pm | 24/11/10

      The entertainment industry is Business pure and simple. There are talented artist in all areas but unless you fit the marketing strategy of the producers (business owners), you will not be the product sold for consumption. Grow up people. It is not what they would have you believe. In this country the real talent doesn’t embarrass themselves by going on these stupid shows thereby ruining any chance of true mainstream success. Next time you watch one of these shows put your self in the mind set of the marketing department and see if you can notice all the points of sale. I think you will be truly suprised…and maybe forever dissapointed. The more you know about sales and marketing the less you are tricked by talentless drones being pushed onto you. As the artist I create a product, as the business person I sell the product. I quess it depends who control of the art is given to?

    • HongKongPhooey says:

      12:42pm | 24/11/10

      The problem with a lot of these “reality” shows isn’t necessarily the concept, it’s the on-screen talent. What makes a show interesting is being able to get behind and support a personality or (alternatively hate one). It’s about drama and conflict, revenge and retribution. In my opinion, in the early days of BB or Survivor or even Idol, it seemed like a lot more effort was put into assembling a cast of “contestants” that had distinct personality types and were interesting to watch. Now it just seems to be, “we need a young one, an old one, a fat one, a skinny one and a racist). If a viewer can’t get an emotional investment in a program, they won’t continue to watch.
      Then again, it’s network TV. Am I not supposed to think that hard about it?

    • Sludger says:

      02:59pm | 24/11/10

      I agree with you.  Look back at all those early efforts and they were pretty interesting or bloody annoying people.  Either way, they were real people.  I have nothing against the last crop of X Factor contestants, but they really were very poor.  I don’t think this is helped by judges either just sugar coating mediocricy (by the way, this is for any reality show), or just trying for shock value with no substance.  People don’t believe it.

    • Ossie says:

      03:05pm | 24/11/10

      I’m not a fan of reality TV but did watch this series of X-Factor and for the most part enjoyed it.  The annoying parts of the series included the host and the tiresomely long delays in reading out the results, the too frequent ad breaks, the fact the contestants did not sing a full song, only a shortened version of one, AND it seemed to be all about the judges moreso than the contestants. In relation to new acts coming into the market, I welcome them because I am tired of hearing Jimmy Barnes yell instead of sing. And I could never understand a word James Reyne sang. They’ve had their day and time to move over for newcomers. Music is a business and marketing they key. Do Ke$ha or Miley Cyrus have better voices than Sally or Amanda or Hayley? No but they are “marketed” and “packaged” to the hilt thanks to their music labels. Give these contestants a break and credit for getting up and having a go - I wish them all luck.

    • Mark says:

      04:43pm | 24/11/10

      and how many people refused to watch cause of that Kyle idiot being on it?......

    • notSue says:

      07:38pm | 24/11/10

      Ahh Daniela, how the “educated classes”  (arts degree, I note) love to put down” the opiate of the masses”.  Makes ya feel smart for a while doesn’t it? However, you said it yourself   “We have a *finite talent pool* in this country. There are only so many great voices undiscovered, only so many genuinely gifted musicians tucked away in suburban cul-de-sacs waiting for their moment to brush off the cat hair and wow a la Susan Boyle.” Exactly, therefore would it be realistic then to expect that every year, and in every incarnation, reality talent programs produce a genuine star (whatever that is) in this country? Logic says not.

      However, we *have* uncovered some amazing voices since we began our love affair with these heavily manipulated shows, whether by good fortune or good management. One of these is an occasional contributor to this very site, Damien Leith. He has a loyal fanbase who *buy* his music and attend his live gigs, four years after he arrived on our tellies.  Success is difficult to define, it isn’t all about being a mega -star, it can be about making a decent living doing the thing you love, and making people happy in the process. He, like Guy, certainly does.

      I didn’t watch the XFactor until the last few eps, because I dislike the judges game playing in that particualr format, and yeah, Altiyan didn’t do it for me. However, it is great to see that there is still an outlet for musical talent because, god knows, it’s tough to get a break out there. All the pub bands and singers who whinge about reality TV fame, I suggest you checkout the CVs of people like Damien andGuy and see just how many years of slog it took for them to become ‘overnight successes”. Talent will out,  given the opportunity, thank goodness.

    • youdy beaudy says:

      12:30am | 25/11/10

      Altyan was a good rock man but I thought Sally had more versatility with her voice. The Talent was there and the production was to me very well put together and the young fella who introduced everyone was a very talented person and probably a lot better at his job than the guys that ran australian idol.

      Of course the show is about making money for the investors but it did draw out a lot of quite good voices and helped the young people to develop their voices. I hope that they get a good career out of their win but it must always be difficult to become a star these days as the competition is amazing but I think that some of the acts were better than a lot of the rubbish singers on the air today. They had a go at it and that takes a lot of courage so good luck to them. ,Altyan will find a place somewhere as a rock singer but I think Sally Chatfield should have won, she has a superb voice and is certainly world class. A lot of effort was put into the production to make the singers stand out and that is what I enjoyed. Good Work.

    • Peter says:

      06:47am | 25/11/10

      As a singer, Altiyan makes a great forklift driver. Now back to your cave you go.

    • OchreBunyip says:

      12:09pm | 25/11/10

      I think the talent shows would have more appeal if we saw more of the talent and less of the judges. The most painful performances are the likes of the X Factor judges waffling on after a contestant’s performance.

      For the purposes of disclosure I am not a strong “Reality TV” watcher as very little of it appears real or unscripted.

    • Linda says:

      12:58am | 09/12/10

      Great Post! in this country to we have countless talent shows and only a handful of good singers (by that I mean Long term recording artists) to come out of them. We’ve had popstar 1-4, Australian Idol 1-7 and xfactor 1 & 2, is that seriously all the talent we have left in Australia?

      I was just watching clips from the current season of Xfactor in the UK a few days ago over youtube. The contestants on their show really do make our last xfactor look like a karaoke contest not the search for a new star. If you want to see real ” Xfactor” Look up Cher loydd she is the best out of the bunch and at only 17 radiates Xfactor…. if Australia could find talent as good as this maybe people would actually watch these shows for a change…..

      Altiyn just won Xfactor and while he can sing , he probably wont last long as he lacks an xfactr. I’m sure most people would listen to him in a pub for free but hardly any would pay to see him live….(and we all should know by know, it doesn’t matter how many downloads you get or albums you sell,  its how many people come to your shows… the tours are how the artists really make their money)

      In Australia the most successful artists to come out of these shows are: Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, Jess mauboy, Ricki- lee, anthony callea, Wes carr, Stan walker, Lisa Mitchell…and others like Cosima De Vito, Lee Harding, Bobby Flynn,Dean Geyer, Matt Corby, Paulini and Damien Leith have had some success but aren’t near as popular as they were on the show. The rest have gone back to there day jobs (or given up singing and gone into acting). And the ones that do release some form of music, it only get snapped up by the 2% of fans that still followed them after the next season came around and they struggle to get it on the radio.

      Which is the whole reason the contestants on these shows don’t last.  It’s not so much that they lack talent but that the people watching are fans of a TV show not fans of a singer. Once the show is over, they move on to the new batch of contestants and totally forget about the last season. Shows like Idol and Xfactor are great at getting you’re name out there but after the show is over these contestants still need to keep in the spotlight and try and get a song on the radio or whateva so they don’t fade into obscurity. Not so hard if you’re the winner or runner up who gets signed but for the ones that are trying to do something independently its a huge struggle.
      I think we also forget that while on these shows, the contestants are singing covers of well known songs but when they leave the show and realise their own original material it can be very different. This can make them lose fans and can also make them less “top 40” friendly and mark able- if their own music is too different from whats on the show. We also need to remember when these shows are fading, it is in part because they have been overdone to death but because we have other platforms like youutube and myspace to generate stars that we didn’t have when these shows were at their prime. Now everyone has a chance at being “discovered” and everyone can have 15 minutes of fame without the need to go on a silly T.V show. Again those in the music industry seems to look down at anyone that has success after being on one of these shows because they seem them as a reality star and not a real artist. Which in turn is probably why alot of really talented people stay away because they want there fame and success though there hard work not short lived though shows like this. For others its probably just not there thing and can see they wouldn’t have the character or personality needed to be in the top 12 of the show so they play in pubs and try to make it the old fashioned way.

      Interestingly of all the Idol contestants we’ve had as successful as they are in our own country they are relatively unknown overseas. While Susan Boyle and Paul Potts gained international media with there voices our own Anthony calleas version of the prayer never became a youtube hit (as it was done in 2004 before youtube was big). While Leonia Lewis, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, Jordin Sparks, Daughtry have made overseas and are probably more well known names as our own contestants are here in Australia.

      At the end of the day aren’t these shows meant to make a star, why cant we find big stars here? The channels spend millions of dollars to get the viewers to watch and the record company hopes whoever gets signed will make them lots of money and yet year after year its the same boring show. We never have any of these stand out performances like they seem to have in other countries and we see they same stars over and over again. Like this years runner up in xfactor, Sally, sounded just like casey doveon and we know how well she went. Even proper artist like Guy and Jess seem to only bring out songs that sound like all the other stuff coming out of America.


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