| 12.3°C Dublin

Will X Factor ever come back again?

"We can sing, we can dance, this is what we were born to do," said one of the four-strong boyband at the Dublin auditions for The X Factor.

"We're Temple Fire and we're gonna set this place alight!"

Woo-hoo! Louis Walsh's little eyes lit up, like Nosferatu contemplating fresh blood.

But when the quartet -- who attended U2's alma mater, Mount Temple School, and christened themselves in its honour --opened their mouths and started singing, Walsh's eyes crinkled (in so far as they can crinkle these days) in despair at the flat, tuneless hum coming from the stage.

It was clear Temple Fire couldn't set the stage alight if you gave them a box of matches and a gallon of paraffin.

"Guys, have you never recorded yourselves and listened back?" asked a visibly pained Walsh.

"Only on a phone," said one of them. Ha, ha!

Yes, The X Factor was back in Dublin for the first time in four years.

This in itself was a surprise. Most of the TV magazines and weekend newspaper listings pages said we'd be seeing the Birmingham auditions.

You have to wonder about the reason behind this hasty change from the broadcaster.

After the comprehensive battering The X Factor took in the press last week over Auto-Tune and its choice of contestants, could it have been an attempt to get back in the audience's good books with a bit of light relief?

Maybe so, but the overall quality of the acts -- which included a pub singer called Noel, who refused to get off the stage, and a 32-year-old student called Michael, who couldn't find the right note if he worked in a bank -- was so dreadful that you couldn't escape the feeling this was the people of Dublin taking their revenge for Jedward.

At times it appeared Simon Cowell was being subjected to a massive wind-up.

He didn't like it one bit. "This is Ireland, so I'm holding you responsible," he snapped at Walsh.

It could all be just more stage-managed theatrics, of course, but Cowell doesn't appear to get the Irish sense of humour.

Hardly a surprise, really, given that the man himself doesn't seem to have a sense of humour of any kind -- unless he's making the jokes and they're at someone else's expense.

And then, changing both the tone and the quality dramatically, came Mary Byrne, a 50-year-old supermarket worker with a voice that could melt icebergs.

Mary is a real singer in a competition that's supposed to be about real singing.

Her fate over the coming weeks and months will signify whether The X Factor has learned its lesson from the events of the past week, or whether it's as deeply mired in cynicism, as most people think it is.

I got a cat when I was 11 years old. I loved that cat. I only mention this because the year I got the cat, 1973, was the same year Last of the Summer Wine began.

The cat lived for 18 years, which is an exceptionally long time if you're a cat. When the moment came to take him on that final, sad journey to the vet, I was a 29-year-old married man.

Last of the Summer Wine, on the other hand, lived a lot longer: 37 years. It finally limped into the sunset last night, with only one of its original cast, the venerable Peter Sallis, still living.

Poor Mr Sallis is now so aged and infirm that his character, the philosophical Norman Clegg, hadn't had any outdoor scenes in a number of years. The insurance cost to the BBC would have been too high, apparently.

On balance, I'd say the cat was in better shape at the end than Last of the Summer Wine. Rest in peace. At last.

STACEY'S STARS

The X Factor **

The very last of the summer wine *