A TV talent show has been axed by ITV, after scientists were able to identify the elusive “X-Factor” via the use of a simple blood test.
The X-Factor – a long-running series devised by record boss supremo, Simon Cowell – sees four judges travel the length and the breadth of the UK, inviting thousands of young wannabe singers to audition for a place in the live finals.
Once selected, the finalists take part in a live weekly sing-off, and the act with the lowest share of the audience vote each week is ejected from the competition and sent home. At the end of the process, the winning act secures a recording deal with producer, Cowell (54), worth upwards of one million pounds.
From beginning to end, the whole process takes approximately 30 weeks, with a cost to Cowell and ITV that runs into the millions. However, Cowell insists, this is a small price to pay to identify an act with the elusive “X Gene” – a rare genetic abnormality present in just one in every nine-hundred-thousand Western adults.
According to Cowell, individuals possessing the gene can have up to fourteen times more charisma than those without, as well as a sort of “hypnotic quality [which] makes it impossible for anyone in the room not to watch them.”
Musical acts who carry the genetic mutation (including Elvis Presley, who was recently confirmed deceased) have been known to generate tens of millions of dollars in worldwide revenue. Results from Cowell’s years of rigorous testing, though, have been mixed at best.
While early results were promising, with the discovery of the then 21 year old Leona Lewis in the show’s third series, a number of false positives soon followed – including Glasgow-born crooner Leon Jackson and four-piece girl group, Little Mix – and confidence in the testing procedure has fallen in recent years.
As a result of the substantial costs involved, and current process’s inaccuracies, researchers at North Middlesex University Hospital have been attempting to design a more accurate means of identifying the rare condition.
After months of painstaking research, doctors at North Middlesex were able to detect a “distinctive chromosomal pattern” present only in those with the X-Gene abnormality. In order to carry out the test, researchers extract a small blood sample directly from the performer’s larynx, which is then put through a relatively simple and inexpensive series of screenings that can give results in “hours, not months”.
Professor Kate Aliss (34), one of the team who first perfected the technique, believes the new testing method has the potential to transform the music industry, and free up Saturday evening TV for “something good.”
While calibrating her team’s findings, Professor Aliss tested a number of former X-Factor runners up, including singer, Ruth Lorenzo, and boy band, One Direction. Tests showed that neither Ms Lorenzo nor any of the members of One Direction possessed the gene, although they revealed that One Direction’s Irish-born Niall Horan (right) suffers from a rare blood condition which has “almost certainly” left him infertile.
A spokesperson for ITV said that while it would be disappointed to lose the X-Factor from its Saturday line-up, the potential savings from replacing the Dermot O’Leary fronted show with X-Gene testing could, over the years, run into the tens of millions.
The X-Factor was last in the news last weekend, when a bear broke into the studio during rehearsals and horrifically mauled judge, Louis Walsh.