With the X-factor in full swing, I thought I would give my account of what happened on one rainy day at the Manchester auditions.
It was in fact my friend who was doing the auditioning; I was just there for moral support. The audition took place at the Old Trafford stadium, which for obvious reasons led to some excitement. This was then enhanced by the fact that I would actually get to see what happens during the auditions of a show that I have watched for years.
The audition took place on a Saturday, having signed up by email months in advance on the website, we finally received a response from them. They stated that the audition would take place in a weeks time. Luckily having already booked the Saturday off, for other reasons, it meant that we could go. However, normally we both work on Saturday. The email went on to say that you could be there from 9am until 9pm. This was fine, a lot of people audition and we knew that. Then it said that the call-back was on the Sunday, at 9am. This was slightly inconvenient but we would have to make it work.
Arriving at Old Trafford
Setting off from Leeds at 7:15am, we arrived, parked and were present in the queue by 8:30am. The queue snaked around the entire front of Old Trafford. At 9am we thought they would start letting people in. Instead a guy came out and started ordering us to cheer at the camera, to dance and look really happy. Well it was 9am, on a Saturday morning and freezing cold. Looking around no one looked too happy. Eventually after some more ‘encouragement’ from him more people started moving their arms and dancing.
At half past nine we were still waving our arms. By 10am we were still there. By this point a few people had become desperate to get on TV and were lifted up onto other people’s shoulders. At half 10 we were told to ‘silent cheer’. Now if anyone knows the definition of cheer, you would know that it’s impossible to do it silently. However, the guy kept shouting and eventually the crowd listened. Screaming without noise, waving their hands about and generally looking ridiculous, everyone tried to get the perfect shot in a hope that we would be able to audition soon.
Excitement spread when the guy told the crowd that Dermot O’leary was going to come out and say hello. This soon passed when at 11am he came out and then took another hour to film his segments. The guy kept shouting but by this point everyone was cold, fed up and just wanted to go into the warmth.
At noon we were told that they would start leading people in but first they had to put barriers in place. It was left until then to do because they would have been in the way of the crowd shots. Finally, the queue starting moving. They were still filming the crowd as people slowly entered the stadium and, even though it was raining, on more than one occasion people were asked to put down their umbrella as it would ruin the shot.
On TV, during the auditions, you see loads of people gathered in a big room waiting to be called through. We were led into one of the stands. It was freezing. Here we waited for a further 2 hours. At the this point barely anyone had been led out of the stand to audition. We asked a person, who worked for the x-factor, how long it would be until we were seen. His vague answer was that it could be another 3 or 4 hours. It was at this point that my friend decided against auditioning.
The whole day we were made to feel like an insignificant cog in their giant machine.
Yes, many people audition and it is difficult to see everyone. That part is fair enough. The part when you’re not allowed an umbrella when it’s raining, is the part that annoys me. I understand they need to get the correct footage but making people arrive at 9am to then film for 3 and half hours (and not mentioning this in the email) seems to be taking advantage of the people who are desperate for a slice of fame.