As is always the way there’s not much going on in the run-up to Christmas however we do have the final of a very popular reality TV show to look forward too
And I am of course referring to the X-Factor final which started with a special performance of ‘Ain’t no Mountain High Enough’ by all the finalists. I say that really it was only Austin, Laura, Ruth and Rachel who got to sing anything but then again at least we were spared from hearing Daniel sing again. After this it was the Christmas songs where Alexandra kicked ass on Silent Night, JLS went for light-heartedness on Last Christmas and Eggnog murdered I wish it Would be Christmas Everyday. After this it was the famous duets round Eggnog did a decent job with Boyzone singing Picture of You, Louis Walsh obviously called a favour in with Westlife after JLS’ original duetee Rhinna allegedly pulled out. But it was Alexandra’s duet with Beyonce on the latter’s Dreamgirls hit ‘Listen’, Beyonce was so giving and that’s why the duet was such a good X-Factor moment and that I think clinched it for Alex. After Ewok-boy was voted into 3rd place, JLS and Alexandra did a battle of the ‘Hallelujahs’ which again Alex won. And then she won the finale.
But was it the right choice? Well I have to say that Alexandra was the surprise winner but she was a hell of a singer who along with JLS and Ruth was the most consistent performer throughout. But with the voting public it was Eggnog who was a favourite winning the first six shows with dippy Diana winning show 7, JLS winning show 9 and Alexandra winning show 8 and the final. I earlier thought that Diana or Laura would win even though my personal favourite was Ruth her performances of ‘Purple Rain’ and later ‘Always’ were stand out. But then again this was the strongest year with 8 possible winners (Daniel, Scott and the two girl groups never had a chance) some of the favourites (Austin, Laura) went home early while Dan the sob-story Man stayed on for much longer than he should’ve done. The judges only sent home the viewers’ lowest votes twice (the weeks that Rachel and Scott went) and the best thing was the acts’ own choice of sing-off songs. I do think that this was a strong X-Factor year performance wise but there was no big character like a Chico or a Rhyddian or a lot of banter between the judges as there was a Sharon Osbourne shaped hole that couldn’t be filled by Cheryl Cole or Danniiii Minogue who lets face it probably won’t be there next year. But we’ll just have to wait and see.
Next up we have all-female sketch show Beehive. I wasn’t optimistic about this show mainly because all-female shows like this have a bad record for every Smack the Pony there’s a dozen Tittybangbangs, Touch Me I’m Karen Taylors and Katy Brand’s Big Ass Shows. So I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy Beehive, I found it witty and smart and part of that was down to its four stars. Hot Fuzz star Alice Lowe, newcomer Claire Tomson, sketch show regular Barunka O’Shaughnessy and especially Australian stand-up Sarah Kendall where likeable and never annoying like a lot of other female stand-ups. My favourite sketches were mainly where the four girls live together and small incidents build into hilarious incidents like Barunka going out dressed up as a bee on a date. Another favourite was the all-female string quartet who were quite rowdy and enjoyed doing drugs and shagging old men groupies. Although it wasn’t brilliant Beehvie was a cut above a lot of other sketch shows but E4 seems to have abused it putting it on over three consecutive weeks in double bills it doesn’t get as much love as a lot of E4′s other shows and therefore I don’t expect to see it back for a second series.
We’ll finish off with what is always a mainstay of the pre-Christmas catalogue and that is two and a half hours of The Royal Variety Performance. There were many highlights this year Armstrong and Miller did a big-stage version of their slang-talking British Airmen along with John Simm fresh with a strong French accent. Peter Kay’s alter-ego Geraldine also performed ‘The Winner’s Song’ and the new Christmas single, Kay’s new comedy persona is running a little thin but the people seemed to enjoy it. Take That were as watchable as always and of the musicals I quite enjoyed La Cage Aux Foilles and The Lion King. Also entertaining were comedians Michael McIntyre and Rhod Gilbert although Jimmy Carr’s stand-up act was a little dry. We also had to sit through endless ballets and performances from Americans who didn’t really want to be there including The Pussycat Dolls and Rhianna there was also a cheesy performance from America’s favourite Josh Groban with Last Choir Standings’ Only Men Aloud. The most horrible thing for me though was having to sit through Cliff Richard and The Shadows and later a cheesy John Barrowman performance. But that’s what you expect from The Royal Variety you get a mixed bag every year and at least it’s a bit of escapism from the cold and the essay-writing which comes with the last academic week of December. My favourite act though was five guys who made a band just with their voices. I would hate to be Prince Charles though because at least I have a remote control.
Next Time: A Christmas special featuring Doctor Who, The Royle Family, Wallace and Gromit and Gavin and Stacey