Just on a note about the credits, did anyone else notice that Nicole was credited but didn't actually appear?
I think the problem really set in here is when Simon, Cheryl and Dannii left last year replaced by three new judges. While the show should be about the acts and talent, the 'dream team' of them and Louis worked perfectly and that will always be its peak.
The format of the auditions this year and the way it is packaged is very sickly. The show has always been accused of being fake, but the way they have packaged the auditonees this year one has to ask are they deliberately taking the p*** out of the viewers? I think i've said before but people in TV world seem utterly disconnected from the 'real people'.
I don't think the problem was losing Simon, Cheryl and Dannii. Last years auditions were the most watched in the shows history with the new panel and went down well. People often forget how good the panel was in the earlier rounds, it was just in the live shows where it went pear shaped and I think the issues were wider than the judges. Firstly there was the ridiculous twist in the first week, and, as silly as it sounds, there was no novelty act in the finals. I do wonder whether the live shows would have performed better had Goldie not quit the show. There was no talking point last year, and the show hit new heights whilst Jedward & Wagner were in. Then there was the whole Frankie quitting/Amelia returning situation. She was great but that made an even bigger farce of the show.
They should have just brought the same panel back. Kelly was reportedly approached but sidelined her in favour of Dannii. After the upheaval with last years judges, it just needed to be stable this year yet its anything but stable! It's also embarrassing that Anastacia went down well before the show even aired, and many want Mel B to become a permanent fixture. Now Kelly understands the show properly, I think she would have fit in much better and taken it a lot less seriously this year, and she was the only judge that people were actually talking about last year! It was a silly move to let her go.
This years hasn't been helped with the godawful editing either. Those TOWIE scenes are toecurlingly bad. They used to work when they did them in the holding area and it seemed much more natural with Dermot (and Kate) speaking to them, but now it just makes it feel even more scripted. The show also seems to be lacking pace at the minute which isn't helping at all. They're completely overthinking what has made X Factor a success and each year it becomes more and more engineered.