You can tell when summer is almost over because ITV bombard us with ads for juggernaut talent search The X Factor.
Yes, we know it feels like the last one only finished a few weeks ago; our optic nerves are still recovering from the retina-searing fireworks and pyrotechnics of the 2012 contest.
Amazingly that was last December, and as the year has zipped by faster than Simon Cowell on a jet ski, it’s time to face the music and light the lights once more.
The last series was plagued by stories about falling ratings and Nicole Scherzinger’s risqué comments, not to mention the occasional falling-out between the judges, but that’s what the show’s always been about.
Behind the scenes, Cowell is keen to ensure the show stays in the headlines from now until that pre-Christmas finale.
To be fair, these first few episodes are usually TV gold as we witness more deluded wannabe acts given their shot at the big time, while some turns with genuine talent attempt to overcome their nerves in the hope of winning the nation’s hearts.
And it’s not always the winners of this show who become the biggest stars. After all, runners-up Olly Murs, One Direction and Union J (shamelessly shoehorned into Kick Ass 2 recently) have all seen their careers go through the roof.
Once more we welcome Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger, and original series judges Sharon Osbourne and Louis (‘I’m still here!’) Walsh.
“Music has to be from the soul, it has to be about learning your craft,” enthused Louis. “I don’t want these people to think they can just walk into a television show and become a star. It doesn’t happen like that. You have to be good.”
Because of TXF 2012’s relatively poor ratings, there have been a few tweaks to this year’s format. It will be shown twice a week with Saturdays initially dedicated to the closed room auditions (like the first five years of the show). The most impressive acts then perform at Wembley Arena on Sundays in front of thousands.
The diplomatic Dermot O’ Leary is on hand to celebrate with those talented hopefuls who progress through to the next round, and commiserate with the tone-deaf auditionees. Fingers crossed we get more genuine stars, like 2012 contestants Lucy Spraggan, Jahmene Douglas and winner James Arthur.
As Nicole says, it should be “Shamazing!”
X Factor, ITV1, August 31, 8pm