Some things about X Factor will never change.
Let’s take Dermot, for example, who isn’t going to start shouting “Pull yourself together, you were cr*p” to the latest weeping teenage girl in Doc Martens he finds buried in his shoulder.
But with the opening weekend of the new series, one thing had altered, and I’m excited about it.
Because with the return of Cheryl-no-surname and Simon-doesn’t-need-a-surname there was an ease to X Factor that for the last few series’ has been missing.
Producers knew they had a good formula. No-one was panicking.
I would bet that everyone on that set had at least one of those can’t-breathe giggling fits that you generally only get when you’re 14 and a looming chemistry teacher is asking you what is so funny.
Editors didn’t have to distract us from the fact that we may or may not like the new judges by putting in a five minute segment about Lucy from Colchester being picked on at school because she sometimes sings Celine Dion songs in maths.
We had four inches of Cowell chest hair to stare at and Mel B telling Cheryl which Spice Girl she would be: it would have been a crime to distract us from this.
Yes, X Factor still made Made In Chelsea look like a warts and all documentary with its ‘we just happened to film this person arriving at the audition and OH LOOK they were amazing’ edits.
But we entered into it and we suspended our disbelief because we know that it’s tongue-in-cheek – the judges giggling with the guy who danced around to Olly Murs in bad jeans rather than laughing at people, which has happened too often in recent series.
This wasn’t a mean X Factor; relative to past years, it was a cuddly one.
When Linzi from Girl Thing came along in the ‘last chance’ section (women in your 30s do not panic, despite the impression they’re giving you, good stuff can happen in life after you hit 31… ARGH) I envisaged a dragged out storyline ending in heartbreak and some of that aforementioned Dermot-shoulder weeping at Bootcamp.
And then, a miracle.
Simon was honest with Linzi, telling her she wasn’t good enough and sending her home, rather than dragging out the storyline of a familiar face for entertainment value until Bootcamp.
X Factor, it seemed, had grown up.
Simon and Cheryl’s relationship too is older, wiser and a lot more equal after he had to grovel post purple trouser sacking-gate.
Add in the gravitas of an actual Spice Girl and this was a panel of opinions. Oh, and good one-liners too.
“What am I?” said a Mel B speaking on behalf, I imagine, of all women who have ever been in Cheryl Cole’s company, after seeing Cheryl showered with praise. “Chopped liver?”
And so with that, a fleeting glimpse of Harry Styles’ cousin, a posh woman who might not be very posh after all, and the least indecisive ‘Will you ditch your partner and go solo?’ debate (“YES”) of all time, the opening weekend was done.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start that made me look forward to the rest of the series.
Though I really wish the cameras had kept rolling when Cheryl and Mel were talking Spice Girls. Mainly to see if Posh still sends either of them a Christmas card.
[ Watch X Factor's Chloe Jasmine's secret first audition from 2006 ]
[ X Factor catch-up: Cheryl Cole’s in tears as Simon Cowell loses it entirely ]
[ Mel B: I feel like chopped liver sitting next to Cheryl! ]