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Goldie has the last laugh over cruel and sneery X Factor producers

I DON'T know what I feel about this year's X Factor contestants, but I have a new found respect for the electrocuted-Tina-Turner-try-a-like Goldie Cheung.

Apparently, she made it through the judges' houses round to be selected for the upcoming live shows. But she then quit, because she felt she was being played for laughs, as a 'joke' contestant, and not respected as a serious performer.

Well, firstly, I'm not sure what she was thinking. I mean, if you want to be taken seriously, it's possibly best not to wrap a leg around Gary Barlow's neck at your first audition (although we'd all like to). Nor is it smart to gyrate on a grand piano, so that your skirt ends up somewhere around your neck as you repeatedly heave your fortysomething-year-old buttocks into the air.

But Goldie was a unique performer. Obviously one of those contestants picked to 'entertain' rather than 'enthrall'. She was this year's Wagner, or Jedward, only with a hint of Patpong added, through her gyrations and her keeness to show her pants.

At least she was wearing pants.

But at the end of the day, she was smarter than the average X Factor troll. Because, with encouragement from her clued-in British husband, she quit, no doubt throwing the production people into turmoil as this would have wrecked their master mix of live finalists, blended to keep us fixed to our TVs through winter.

I suppose Goldie's withdrawal is the best kind of proof that karma really does exist. Because this season has seen the X Factor producers be especially harsh to wannabe contestants. They've played the "laughing at, rather than laughing with" card a little too liberally.

The past few weeks has seen quite a few of their sneers backfire, most notably the negative coverage the show generated last week when the slightly bewildered 54-year-old widow Ceri Rees returned to audition for the fourth year and failed once again. Goldie's exit could well be seen as a type of karmic retribution.

The producers needed a slap on the wrist though, as throughout the season they've brought far too many inappropriate candidates before the judges and live audiences for ridicule.

The same producers reached an all-time low this week when they filmed and broadcast footage of a boozed-up party thrown for contestants before the bootcamp round began.

Naturally, the celebrations deteriorated into a mash-up of tongues, hot tubs, bare torsos and flailing limbs as will happen when a load of hormone-drenched young (and young-at-heart) people are thrown together with loads of alcohol. Entertaining, perhaps, but not with the contestants' best interests at heart.

So, with such probing cameras, heartless TV editors and apparently extended recorded footage from the contestants' home, it'll be interesting to see how this year pans out. Is X Factor turning into a talent show/Big Brother hybrid? Time will tell, but really, the producers need to wise up and gain some modicum of social conscience.

It's all fun until someone loses their reason.

In the meantime, as others sell their souls, Goldie may well have had the last laugh.