The X Factor UK 2014

Pulling names out of a hat can easily be manipulated and staged.

No it can't. It's fraud and production companies don't risk huge fines/having a channels broadcasting license revoked since the fakery issues of the mid 00s (actually pretty minor; the most serious were on viewer phone-in competitions and one case of a viewer song selection vote on 'Soapstar Superstat' being disregarded).

In terms of mainstream media, TV is actually the most compliance heavy by far. If you run a competition or say something is random, the actual mechanics are it are whiter than white. The producers can influence the *opinion* of the public on phone vote through editing, running orders etc - but they never lie about the results of a phone vote or competition. It just doesn't happen.

And I think Cowell is saying in that interview that the running order will be more 'mixed up' and less predictable - not that it will actually be randomised. If it isn't genuinely random they will NEVER refer to randomness in the wording of the script or press releases.
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It's nice when the best contestant goes last if only for making the previous 118 or 90 minutes feel worth it. When I think of classic performances, I may not remember the exact ordering, but it seems like nine times out of ten they were in the second half of the show.
I think that producers should order performances to give the best balance and mix of different types, styles and tempos of performance through the show. And I think the audience would really notice (for the worse) if it was otherwise.

Base it on the music and the staging but not the individual.
Oh, I'm not saying the best person should always go last, that would be hugely unfair, only that I understand why the producers may save the 'pimp slot', as Michael Slezak calls it, for the best performer or performance.
I think that The X Factor, in previous years, have worked on a rota system for the first and last performance slot, and ordered the remaining acts on mix of styles and tempos.

That to me seems like a good balance between 'fairness' and giving the best show. Of course this means that if it's your turn to be first on; you're probably going to be required to do an uptempo - but forcing some acts to not rely on ballads is often necessary anyway.
I think Simon and Cheryl are, and were, always givens.

I'd like it to be a 3 piece panel if they are going for 2 hosts. Pump the remaining money into a really great third judge.
I think Simon and Cheryl are, and were, always givens.

Why is that? She very rarely provides criticism to the acts and she doesn't bring much in terms of entertainment. I can't think of anyone who would really miss her if she weren't there.

It's a bit of shame Rita Ora was scooped up by the BBC. She would fulfill that role better - She's spontaneous and fun, she can dish out advice on the singing as she can actually, y'know sing and she'll generate more headlines.
I do think we're being a little selective about how we're remembering Cheryl's behaviour last series. She dragged Jay James & Ben Haenow on more than a few occasions, and I remember her giving out quite a few unpopular no's during the auditions.

Don't get me wrong, she still shocks me with how dull she can be but I would place 2014 as her second best year on the show.
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The Voice role is far less demanding because in the UK the judges are TOLD not to be critical. It's hard not to seem likeable when all your doing is being nice to people. Cheryl is still a household name and probably the biggest UK female pop star they could get. And that she can drag acts to hell, albeit on the sly, while still generally thought of as "likeable" amongst the GP is not as easy as it looks.
This is where we differ, because I feel Cheryl's contribution as a X Factor judge is becoming as tired as Louis'.

She was great the first time round, but time for a change.
I would love if they had the balls to hire someone like Jameela Jamil for the panel. She's always had a very music-orientated presenting career (Popworld, T4, Radio 1) and is able to deliver that much needed natural humour where Simon/Cheryl can't. On top of that she looks the part and will be able to play into the weekly fashion war thing.

Also if they hired someone like Robbie or Olly alongside her they could come up with some interesting advertising campaign involving a rivalry between them and the remaining two judges. The Old vs. The New or something.
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I'd be keen for Jameela to appear. I've always liked her and she has an enjoyable amount of disdain for contrivance and unnecessary sexing up. She's more likely to get the presenting slot though, I'd imagine.

I'm going to miss Dermot so very, very much.
She's got sacked within four days written all over her.

Cheryl is the kind of judge I could do without, as she never really excites me, and the Simon/Cheryl banter is getting a bit stale. I wouldn't mind if the stayed though, but I rather see someone else take her place.
I really think Cheryl was so off last season because her category was a mess and probably affected the way she approached the rest of the show's elements...

Or she was tired trying to think of #IDon'tCarePromo - but we all know how that went down...