SO it's official!

Cheryl Cole is returning to The X Factor this year alongside new best friend (again) Simon Cowell.

So everyone can now breathe a sigh of relief that the natural order of the world has been restored and everything from now on will be roses and daffodils and candy floss raining from the heavens... or so Mr Cowell's publicity machine would have us believe.

Okay, so that's perhaps a bit over the top, but you catch my drift right?

I have nothing whatsoever against Cheryl.

In fact I've been in her company on a few occasions - as when Girls Aloud were promoting their single Jump from the movie Love Actually at the same time I released, All this Time, so we were always bumping into each other at Top of the Pops or CD UK and she and all the girls from the band were always lovely.

Although, looking back, nothing quite beats the surreal moment I ended up queuing outside an extremely posh portable toilet with Sarah Harding and Katie Price - aka Jordan - at Michelle Heaton's wedding to Andy Scott Lee, but I'll save that one for another time.

What really bothers me is that The X Factor doesn't need new judges, or old ones returning for that matter, to bring back the once great sparkle of reality TV talent shows, but instead needs a total break for a few years to force our creative production companies and TV bigwigs to actually get off their backsides and come up with new and exciting TV formats and not give us the same old same old year after year.

I know this must seem rich talk coming from someone who wouldn't even be writing this column right now if it wasn't for Pop Idol 11 years ago but seriously, is there anyone who can honestly say they believe these shows are actually about the singing or the contestants any more?

It almost feels like a factory that just churns out winners and runners-up only to discard of them all within a matter of months to make way for the next batch of wide-eyed hopefuls about to be thrown into the so-called Dream Machine.

Why can't these shows just simply focus on talent instead of the egos on the judging panel, with their staged fights and their names appearing on the screen when it comes to voting your favourite act?

I'd love to see a show where we have 12 unbelievable singers battling it out each week instead of the four or five decent singers with the rest made up of comedy duff acts for ratings, complete with 100 dancers and a lion jumping through a flaming hula hoop to distract from the toe-curling live vocals on a song their "mentor" has chosen for them.

Sorry if this all sounds a bit negative, but in my opinion The X Factor and shows like it have just got so lazy.

So come on, Mr Cowell. If you really are even a tenth as good as you would have us believe, put your money where your mouth is and give us something really worth shouting about on a Saturday night, and let's get back to the main objective - which is finding true talent and sticking by them.

n I'M delighted to say that I will be performing at this year's Glasgow St Patrick's Day Festival in Merchant Square on Saturday afternoon.

I will be joined on stage by the very talented Johnny and Jonathan Gillespie from Crooked Reel and Joe O'Sullivan and Michael Sweeney from Parting Glass, so if you're looking for a great free family day out come down and join in the fun.

l www.glasgowst