Branded contestants. XFactor fever has well and truly gripped the UK. From now until Christmas, half the country tunes in on a Saturday night for the pop music spectacle. Not that pop music sits particularly high on the programme’s agenda, it is perhaps more accurate to say that people tune in to see in the flesh the contestants whose antics have filled the more lurid pages of the tabloid press that week. And Cheryl Cole.
Or Dannii Minogue, depending on your preference.
This year’s batch of hopefuls have proven particularly successful in terms of generating publicity for the show: Two young divas of questionable talent and psychological stability, groups that have never met each other before, and a former PE teacher from the Midlands who looks like a cross between Renee and Renato from, er. . . Renee and Renato.
But there is one contestant who, quite unconsciously, has the potential to change the face of game shows like the X-Factor: Mary Byrne from Ireland. Not for her singing, although she can undoubtedly carry a tune, and she seems a nice enough lady: what sets Mary apart from the other contestants in the biggest UK TV event of the year, is her unofficial sponsorship. Before fame, fortune and a desire to perform 2 minute cover songs to Simon Cowell once a week overwhelmed her, Mary worked for 11 years as a checkout assistant at Tesco.