The papers have been full of X Factor Judge speculation for weeks. First Dannii's out and Posh is in, then Lily and Charlotte are supposedly scrapping for a place at the judging table - the facts, ie Charlotte's blatant denial in OK magazine not even getting a look in - then suddenly Dannii's back. And they haven't even begun discussing contracts yet... It's a game of virtual musical chairs that will keep the X Factor in the headlines all the way until the show begins again in June.
Now Louis Walsh has reportedly asked for a whopping pay rise, from £800,000 to £1.3 million. Not many people will be getting a 40%+ increase this year. A Labour blogger has slagged him for even asking in such a time of economic downturn. If this were public money he was going for, I'd be right up there with him, but if this is true, whether he gets it or not will depend pretty much on Simon Cowell's largesse.
I think that TV personalities on prime time shows get paid way too much and worry that this is at the expense of production values and regional programming. You don't get to make a programme these days unless it's going to be a ratings winner, so the range of what's available to watch becomes ever narrower. And even if your show is good, like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or Pushing Daisies (yes I know they're American but stay with me), you are likely to get cancelled if you don't dominate the viewing in your slot.
An interesting little footnote to this story - again, if the figures were to be believed, Louis was on about £800,000, Dannii was on somewhere around £600,000 - £800,000 and Cheryl was on £500,000 for this last series. We'll ignore Simon, who earns squillions cos he owns the show. Whatever happened to the concept of equal pay for work of equal value?
The Judges' pay is a matter for them and Cowell to resolve in the end of the day - and at least, when it comes to the obscenely overpaid, they can still look down on footballers and former bank bosses. And in fact, some current senior managers in banks if Gordon Brown doesn't grow a backbone and stop them from being paid huge bonuses with our money.
I guess this is as good a time as ever to have a wee look back at why we love the X Factor so much. It gives us such classic moments as this....
I just wonder if this newly formed group will find their way to the Glasgow auditions this year. The girl's ok, but the bloke is well dodgy....