MANIPULATIVE? Certainly. A parody of itself? Sometimes looks that way.
But there’s no denying the TV genius that is The X Factor.
The 12 final acts have just been revealed on ITV1 – not all a surprise.
Even so, tonight’s TV reveal broke the series record for tears.
It had already been reported that girl band Hope had got through to the live studio finals.
They include Manchester born and raised Raquelle Gracie (pictured) – the super-confident one who does the splits.
Raquelle, 20, is the daughter of former Cheshire tycoon Mohammed Naviede, jailed in 1995 for a £45m fraud.
A former colleague spent part of that year covering his trial at the Old Bailey.
It is, of course, absolutely no reflection on Raquelle and her X Factor experience.
But it’s just one example of the stories and links which emerge at this stage of the contest.
That includes the already widely reported “shock twist”, which saw Hope member Sisi Jghalef booted off the show.
Veteran X Factor watchers may have guessed from Saturday’s MEN story that Urmston student Kim Howlett missed out.
Finalists are not usually available for interviews and photo sessions the week before the big “reveal”.
And there were few bombshells when the embargoed pics of the confirmed 12 final acts dropped into my in-box first thing this morning.
Welsh baritone Rhydian Roberts, 24, (pictured below) has been built up as the annoying one viewers will love to hate.
Nikki Evans, 34, was an early favourite to go the distance after the story of finding an application form in her late dad’s belongings.
Daniel De Bourg, 31, is the photogenic model with the cute three-year-old son.
He was once signed to Dreamworks and worked with R. Kelly but never got his single released.
And Kimberley Southwick, 19, is the daft one who viewers will hope can come good.
Emily Nakanda, 15, is the youngest finalist – she was the first ever 14-year-old to audition for the judges.
Who’s going to win and will they actually achieve any lasting success in what can be a very hollow process?
I’ve absolutely no idea – but like millions of others, I’ll be watching between now and Christmas.
Hope Through To X Factor Final
Girls Are Xtra Special
The X Factor Official Site