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No change with X Factor

"THIS isn't just an audition, this is an audition for The X Factor!" It's not clear if Gary Barlow was talking about the hordes of wannabes queuing outside for the chance to become the next act dropped by Simon Cowell's label after a year, or his own debut as Cowell's replacement-of-sorts.

At any rate, Gary was excited -- although "not as excited as me mum", he said, which makes you wonder what Gary's mum was doing in all those years when Take That were selling millions of records and packing out arenas.

Mind you, Gary's enthusiasm came right at the start, before he'd endured dozens of talented, tuneless gobshites who couldn't hold a note if they worked in a bank.

Poor Gary. He's been misinformed. He seems to think he's judging a singing competition rather than a karaoke pantomime. Maybe he doesn't watch The X Factor.

The other new judges, however, have it licked. Tulisa Contostavlos from N-Dubz knows exactly why she's there: to inject some lippy, urban edginess into the thing -- or in other words, NOT be Cheryl Cole.

Kelly Rowland, aka the one from Destiny's Child who isn't Beyonce, provides a bit of loud, brash, all-American pizzazz -- everything is "freakin'" this and "freakin'" that -- while the lone survivor, Louis Walsh, is still just Louis Walsh: gnome-like, as opposed to gnomic, as ever, and enthusiastically championing anyone who makes it from one side of the stage to the other without falling over.

Cosmetic changes aside, this is X Factor business as usual, except the producers have compensated for Cowell's absence by upping the idiocy ante considerably.

Frankie, a smarmy, cocky, teenage twerp dripping with entitlement and with a hairstyle you want to punch was Generation X Factor incarnate.

"I want to be HUGE," he said, before dropping his trousers to show the seven girls' names tattooed on his bum. This being family television, the crack -- the bit that defines what a bum is -- was fuzzed out, although Frankie still managed to talk through his arse. The rasp coming from the orifice at the top was enough to get him to bootcamp.

A tone-deaf moron called George, who was kicked off last year for throwing down his microphone and giving the judges the finger, was kicked off again this year for doing the same thing -- and calling Tulisa "a scumbag".

Goldie, a demented tai chi teacher from Hong Kong, waggled her bum in the judges' faces and wrapped her leg around Gary's neck, causing him to freeze like a horrified fish finger. "I don't believe we're having this conversation," he moaned as the other three voted to put Goldie through.

This year's series has already found its first piece of psychologically shaky tabloid fodder -- Kitty, a manic blonde with what looks like a personality disorder -- and a doe-eyed 16-year-old from Tyrone called Janet, whose cute, quirky little voice could either enchant or irritate. Only time will tell.

If The Antiques Roadshow showered Who Do You Think You Are? with wine, flowers, chocolates and little love notes, and then took it away for a dirty weekend, the eventual offspring would be The Genealogy Roadshow. Derek Mooney and a trio of genealogy experts -- Nicola Morris, John Grenham and the splendidly named Turtle Bunbury -- pitch up around the country (last night it was Adare Manor in Limerick) and trace members of the public's ancestry for links to famous people and/or events. Last night's opener unearthed a link between the family of Patricia O'Neill, from Kilkenny, and Charlie Chaplin's third wife, Oona.

Not all the findings were that dramatic, of course, but this is ideal Sunday teatime material, brand new but with a comfortingly familiar feel, that taps into the current craze for clambering up the family tree.

Unlike a lot of what RTE1 sticks into this slot, it's also competently made by Big Mountain Productions, which also produces TV3's laudable, if flawed, The Tenements.

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