Cheer/groan (delete according to mindset): The X Factor is back. Author Jeremy Clay tells the story of the show’s Victorian forebear, where the hopefuls had to sing while carrying a pig.
There was no sobbing. None of the hopefuls told a weepy backstory. Not a single one boohoo-ed about the journey they’d been on since the contest began.
At the Victorian version of the X Factor, the talent show format was stripped right back to its bare bones.
Just six contestants and a stage, each and every man singing his heart out to impress the judges.
While carrying a pig.
This singular scene played out in London in 1896, the harebrained brainwave of an auctioneer called CF Rowley.
He wanted to drum up a bumper crowd for his sales.
Putting on a bit of a show to jolly things along seemed a perfectly sensible way of going about it, even if the requirement to hold a hog didn’t.
The High Road, Willesden Green.
Still, it seemed to do the job. Up to 1,500 people crammed into the marquee in Willesden Green, and they weren’t just there for the hammy performances.
There was also a wheelbarrow race, a hot tea-drinking showdown and some non-specific whatnottery involving a chap dressed in a donkey’s skin that the press alluded to but never got round to properly explaining