The X Factor is a British television music competition to find new singing talent, contested by aspiring singers drawn from public auditions. Created by Simon Cowell, the show began in September 2004 and has since aired annually from August/September through to December. The show is produced by FremantleMedia's Thames (previously Talkback Thames) and Cowell's production company SycoTV. It is broadcast on the ITV network in the United Kingdom and TV3 in Ireland, with spin-off behind-the-scenes show The Xtra Factor screened on ITV2. It is the originator of the international The X Factor franchise. The X Factor was devised as a replacement for the highly successful Pop Idol, which was put on indefinite hiatus after its second series, largely because Cowell, who was a judge on Pop Idol, wished to launch a show to which he owned the television rights. The perceived similarity between the two shows later became the subject of a legal dispute. The "X Factor" refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality.
Simon Cowell: (to a bad auditionee) You couldn't win this competition even if you were the only one in it!
Sharon Osbourne: I've got something for you. It's warm, it's lovely and it smells nice. When can I give it to you?
Shayne Ward: (cheekily) Now?