When it comes to star-studded, celebrity television extravaganzas, everyone has their guilty pleasure.

Perhaps it's seeing famous faces waltz across the ballroom in Dancing with the Stars, icing a cake on Celebrity Bake Off or witnessing their greatest fears on I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here. Conversely, maybe it's discovering their talents are actually more than skin-deep, with celebrity brainiacs taking on The Chase and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Whatever your fascination, there's a seemingly endless array of stars parading themselves on celeb-styled shows. Now there's another contender to shout — and sing — about: The X Factor: Celebrity, with impresario Simon Cowell re-jigging his hit talent formula to include a celebrity twist.

But to try to keep things grounded, he's roped in his long-term collaborators Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, Louis Walsh and Dermot O'Leary to help any wannabe stars unleash their inner karaoke champ — or cry trying.


"I think what's great about this [format] is that these are all people who are household names or faces, who we're not used to seeing in this light," says Scherzinger. "It's surprising and thrilling to discover these celebrities have a whole new talent — singing."

"In some ways, despite the celebrity aspect, it feels exactly the same as previous shows," adds The X Factor presenter O'Leary. "But at the same time, it also feels like we're off the map a bit because, although they can all sing, to a degree, we have no idea if it's going to work out or not.

"It's quite a gamble," he says. "Chances are we probably won't find a recording artist at the end of it, if I'm honest. But you can bet we'll give it a good crack, to see what happens."

Judges of The X Factor Celebrity: Louis Walsh, Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger. Photo/ Supplied
Judges of The X Factor Celebrity: Louis Walsh, Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger. Photo/ Supplied

It's worth noting the series has aired in the UK, so it's probably best to avoid too many online searches if you want to stay spoiler-free.

One of the stars "giving it a crack" who is well-known to Kiwi audiences, is Christchurch-born dancer Brendan Cole. In the UK, he's wowed crowds during his 15-year run on Strictly Come Dancing and caused a few ripples as a judge on Dancing with the Stars. It'll be fun to see how he fares, partnered with his actor pal, Jeremy Edwards, as he trades his dance grooves for crooning tunes.

"Yeah, it's quite a change from being a dancer and a judge to doing this. It's much harder than we thought it would be too," admits Cole. "It's a proper show, with singing at the heart of it, so I've tried to take any criticism constructively and put my best foot forward.

"It's been difficult, though, because we're not professional singers — and we're never going to be. Also, there are some phenomenally talented people within this group. Because we're competitive, we want to leave our mark on this competition — just like everybody else. We don't intend to just make up the numbers."

It's a common theme for all the stars, be they talk show guru Ricki Lake, Glee star Kevin McHale, rugby players Ben Foden, Thom Evans and Levi Davis, or football enforcer turned Hollywood hardman Vinnie Jones: everyone wants to win or, at least, surpass audience — and their own — expectations.


It's certainly the case with The Chase quizzer, The Vixen, appearing here as herself, Jenny Ryan.

Jenny Ryan, aka The Chase's Vixen, appears in The X Factor : Celebrity in 2020. Photo / Supplied.
Jenny Ryan, aka The Chase's Vixen, appears in The X Factor : Celebrity in 2020. Photo / Supplied.

"I've been doing The Chase for four years and it's given me a really lovely platform, but I feel like now is the right time to do something different, to push myself to achieve more. This opportunity is one not to miss," she says.

"It's my chance to show that I'm an actual person, with other talents, and not just a quiz robot. So, I'm super-excited about it."

As is reality TV star Megan McKenna, best known for starring in Ex on the Beach and The Only Way Is Essex. As she explains, it's possibly her last chance to rekindle her music career, her first love, which stalled after the release of debut album, Story of Me, in 2018.

"It's difficult being taken seriously in the music industry after being in reality shows," says McKenna. "So, I feel like this show is perfect, because people can see how much it means to me and maybe give me another chance. It could be a turning point."

It could very well be, providing fun and frivolity for stargazing viewers — and for celebs, with stars in their eyes and songs in their hearts, the prospect of one last chance at becoming supernovas.

• The X Factor: Celebrity starts at 8.30pm on Friday on TVNZ 1.