“The X Factor” returns to ITV1 in the U.K. on Saturday (Aug. 21) and the channel will be hoping ratings for the first episode of the seventh series top the impressive 9.9 million for last year’s opener.
Viewers will see a few changes on this series. Simon Cowell, the creator of the show and regular judge, will appear alongside guest judges during the audition stages around the country, including former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell in verbose form on the first show, as well as Katy Perry and Pixie Lott.
Cheryl Cole missed some weeks of filming after she contracted malaria – although she is in the opening show – and Dannii Minogue has been on maternity leave. Louis Walsh continues as a judge.
The ratings should grow for the live shows in the fall, when viewers start voting on the contestants. Last Christmas 15.5 million watched Joe McElderry win the show. Those kinds of ratings mean huge exposure for guest performers – and subsequent sales boosts.
No acts have been confirmed for this series but Take That with Robbie Williams will surely be in Cowell’s sights. The series may even welcome a big-selling rock act such as Kings of Leon as well the more obvious pop fit Katy Perry, who appeared on last year’s series. Taylor Swift, Seal, the Script and Pixie Lott are also contenders for exclusive “X Factor” performances to promote releases scheduled around Q4.
The BBC reports that the opening episode features Cowell serving Cole a saucer of milk because of her catty remarks. And 18-year-old Gamu Ngengu, who moved to London from Zimbabwe five years ago, is tipped to do well in the contest following her rendition of “Walking on Sunshine.”
However, a duo called G&S (which stands for Gay and Straight) and the trio Jahm, who both appear in the opening episode, are probably just there for entertainment value. For Cowell, Jahm is the latest “worst group he’s ever heard,” while Walsh apparently tells them they sound like “three cats being strangled in an alleyway.”