Wednesday, 16 March 2011


[6.40 - French Time] French private channel M6 launched yesterday the local version of Simon Cowell's juggernaut talent show The X Factor (aired in the UK on ITV1).

M6, home of the French Got Talent (La France a un incroyable talent) now airs X Factor, thanks to FremantleMedia France, after a 2009 stint on M6's DTT sister channel W9. M6 previously aired Nouvelle Star, the French adaptation of Pop Idol (presently on hiatus), and displays a lot of ambition for the transferred programme. Its X Factor is closer to the original, is produced on a much bigger scale and, above all, has a much effective jury than the W9 edition. Because we all know that in Reality TV the judges are the true stars.

And FremantleMedia did a really good job with their 2011 French X Factor jury: Henry Padovani (musician and co-founder of The Police), Christophe Willem (Singer and winner of Nouvelle Star in 2006), Canadian singer and impersonator Véronic DiCaire and musician and lyricist Olivier Schultheis (who was the orchestra conductor on Nouvelle Star). The most amazing with Schultheis is his resemblance with original X Factor judge Louis Walsh. The hosts are French Got Talent's Sandrine Corman and Jérôme Anthony. Anthony also hosts the French adaptation of Cash in the Attic (on M6 too) and the French Got Talent After show.

The rest is the same as the original: theme intro, incidental music, dramatization, camera effects, etc. Two contestants actually even tried the original X Factor before this one: the twins from Twem. Is there a "second market" for constestants of Cowell's programmes? (a BGT contestant called "Mr Methane" went to Germany's Das Supertalent). In some respects, and at this stage of the show, the French X Factor is also the perfect replica of Got Talent minus the buzzers (1).

It seems so formulaic that you have the impression to watch Peter Kay's Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice (couldn't resist to give the full title of this monument of parody) but that's precisely where the genius of such a programme is: it delivers the goods with style, glitter and more drama than in a US network weekly series. Its audiences find precisely what they look for with the (quite) good, the bad and the ugly auditions, "feuds" between jury members, the viral video moments and the final " That's why this show exists" sequence.

To quote the great Rod Serling, People Are Alike All Over. France has now its own Strictly come Dancing/Dancing with the Stars, give us Dancing on Ice and we'll be fully civilized... sort of.

Update [9.19 - French Time]: Private channel TF1 naturally wins the night with almost 6.5 million viewers (24.7%). Pubcaster France 3 is in second position with lovejoyesque drama Louis la Brocante (launched in 1998!) And X Factor is only third with 3.347.000 viewers and 13.3% ( - In French).

(1) As the lovely wife of your humble servant pointed out.

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