Monday 14 December 2009

X-Factor woos world?

This was the X-factor weekend, with audience figures to take TV executives back to the glory days of TV in the 1960’s, when 21 million people would be tuned into the same thing every evening, and everyone would talk about it next day at work.

That such a thing is still possible says something very interesting about the media landscape in which we live. Formulae with, er, real X-factor can still make it dramatically big in the UK.
However, such major bests will almost inevitably be few and far between, when you consider all that has to go into them:
  • The products themselves have to be exceptional — exceptionally big, brassy, classy, appealing, attention grabbing, and well crafted. This does not come cheap.
  • They will establish themselves, as X-factor has, in various parallel media simultaneously, nimble, and drivem by social buzz.
  • They will have multiple age appeal, embed themselves in particular communities
  • They will be driven by both established personalities and rags-to-riches characters, based on people with a genuine talent to entertain in the conventional sense. All this with a streak of 1950's holiday camp knobbly-knees competition.
  • This makes almost a perfect firestorm for personal engagement, all strands reinforcing the others, with a considerable commitment to excellence all round, and a lot of hard work.
Such programming can’t be churned out by the yard, because part of its appeal is its occasional nature. The good news is that Big Brother was only a bad dream, and millions are still most profoundly engaged by other people with a real talent to entertain. Ah, bless.

And what of Simon Cowell? It’s fashionable to be rather snooty about him, and the shedload of money he’s made for himself and ITV. He may or may not be a particularly pleasant character. Actually I’d place serious money on the notion that he’s very much more personally engaging and switched on than some of the parodies would imply. Generating the chemistry and ideas to bring a thing like this together does require remarkable talent. He’s not the only winner of the show. As well as the people it benefits it has a real community impact, locally and nationally. Bringing people together like this can’t be all bad, surely.

Anyway it’s fun for those of us old enough to remember thirty years ago, to be be taken back down memory lane to the dear old days when the nation could all talk on a Monday morning about the same thing on the telly last night...

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1 comment:

MK22 said...

My memories of Monday mornings in the early 60s at school are about discussing Beyond our Ken or the Navy Lark, though maybe not the Billy Cotton Band Show. TV? None of us had parents rich enough to afford it!!

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