I’ve been asked by the organisers of the Centre Stage talent competition, to be held at the Harlequin throughout August, to point out that said competition is a rather more serious affair than I may have made out in the below article, written last week.…..

I’ve got a guilty secret. I am, I’m deeply ashamed to say, a closet fan of ITV’s the X-Factor.

Yes it’s naff. Yes it’s cruel. Yes it’s jammed packed with posturing, posing idiots, and yes it is, by and large watched by people with little or no musical taste.

It is, however, compelling viewing – a unique chance to assess the abilities (or otherwise) of the genuinely talented…or the plain bloomin' awful.

It’s with a keen sense of anticipation, then, that I let you know of the Watford’s very own version – Centre Stage at the Harlequin.

Singer/songwriters and bands alike are sought by the organisers to vie for the rather grandiose title of the best act in Hertfordshire.

Musicians of any style can submit demos online to www.harlequinbrandunion.com by 25 July.

Eight finalists will then be selected to play live in the centre on every Saturday in August.

The grand final will take place on Thursday, September 4 when all eight acts will compete head-to-head to win a day’s recording time and two rehearsal time at the Sanctuary Recording Studio, a feature on Mercury 96.6fm, £300 worth of Hooters’ vouchers, and, if that weren’t enough, a performance at The Harlequin's Christmas light switch on.

Interested? Then why not give it a crack?

Ordinarily I’d be pretty miffed to receive a wrist slapping call from a PR agency asking for a correction. On this occasion, however, I’m only too glad to expunge any references to the X-Factor.

Comparing the competition to the tawdry show, grumbled said PR agency, dealt a hefty blow to the credibility of a project designed to showcase serious talent.

It’s with good grace, then, that I offer the following humble, groveling, cap-in-hand apology to all concerned: Centre Stage is nothing like the X Factor – except, of course, for its stream of expectant talent and panel judging format.

In all seriousness, though, this is a competition for proper bands and judging by the entries I’ve been told pf thus far, the quality should be pretty high.