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X Factor 2017 spoilers: 8 things to watch out for on tonight's launch episode

We give you the lowdown on the first auditions of the new series

the x factor 2017 contestants tx1 cuts - 34

The X Factor 2017 kicks off on ITV tonight, and here's a preview of the first auditions episode - including original music, a returning act and a flirty Nicole Scherzinger!

The talent contest is back for its fourteenth series - and, remarkably, it's the first in seven years not to feature any changes to the judging panel.

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Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and Nicole are all back to lead the search for a new music superstar.

Meanwhile, 'Mr Saturday Night' himself Dermot O'Leary will be guiding the contestants along the way.

We've heard lots about what changes bosses have made, such as cutting the amount of live shows and ditching themed weeks.

But there's several stages to go before then, starting with the room auditions. Here's a taste of what to expect from the first batch of try-outs...

The judges have huge respect for each other...

As always, the series kicks off with a little intro to remind you what the show's all about, complete with the obligatory crowd shots.

The judges talk a little about what exactly a popstar's mysterious 'x factor' is, before bigging up each others' credentials.

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Sharon is described as "one of the toughest" people in the business, Nicole as a "24-hour popstar that's got everything", Louis as a "successful" and "excellent" manager, and Simon as "spot on" at "knowing what the public wants".

...but they don't take themselves too seriously

When the tour arrives in Liverpool, Sharon explains what she loves about the city. "I think it's beautiful, the way they preserve a lot of the old buildings," she laughs. "Like me!"

Later, Simon treats Louis like he might treat his son Eric: "We're going to do more auditions! We're going to hear people sing, he likes that! You like that don't you?!"

In fact, Nicole has so much fun that in one scene she arrives on set with the price tag still on her shoes!

Grace Davies
Grace Davies

Original material is a major focus

We already know the producers have been encouraging contestants to use original material this year - but it seems they're very keen to hammer that message home.

From the moment we see the punters queuing up, it’s clear there’s been a shift in musical attitude. One staffer asks “Can I have your music please?”, while a hopeful says “I’m doing my own one today”.

Then, when the first act, boyband Rak-Su, fall flat with Justin Timberlake’s ‘Señorita’, they get a second chance and perform an original song.

Meanwhile, one of the highlights comes when budding singer-songwriter Grace Davies sings her self-penned track 'Roots' - which she had never previously performed publicly.

At one point, Louis actually says "it's all about the voice"

Not a statement you'll often hear uttered on The X Factor. A certain talent contest might want to use that soundbite in its trailer next year!

There is an act who's been on X Factor before

Recently, Simon said that while a few of this year's acts "have been on the show before", they're not the same people that come back "year after year".

Indeed, the one blast from the past tonight, 27-year-old Liverpudlian Anthony Johnson, is only giving it his second shot - ten years after he first tried out as a teenager in 2007.

It remains to be seen just how familiar any other returning hopefuls are, but at the moment, Simon's comments appear to be spot on.

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Anthony Russell

There's not many properly bad acts (for now)

For the first episode, the focus is squarely on talent. This is The X Factor, however, so you can be assured that there are cringey acts involved.

One questionable audition tonight sees Brazilian personal trainer Elisangela Mahogany try to win over the judges with her dance moves more than her vocals.

There's also an awkward rendition of 'Nothing Compares 2 U' from Jo-Ann Mason. (You'll have to tune in to find out whether their efforts are good bad or bad bad!)

The judges are sick of Ed Sheeran

Note to future X Factor contestants: if you want to stand out, it's probably best not to sing an Ed Sheeran track.

The flame-haired superstar has been everywhere in 2017, so he has understandably been a popular choice for this year's auditions.

In fact, an entire part of tonight's episode is dedicated to his recent hits - such as 'Shape Of You' and 'Galway Girl' - but, as a quickfire montage demonstrates, the judges quickly become bored of them.

Jack and Joel
Jack and Joel

Nicole has been getting flirty with the contestants

It seems the ever-glamorous Nicole has caught some of the contestants' eyes.

Rak-Su member Ashley admits to being a huge fan of the former Pussycat Doll, and as soon as he arrived on set, he admitted his heart was beating out his chest.

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But the affections aren't just one-way. After duo Jack and Joel wow with their unique performance, she tells Joel: "If I were 22 and you guys were a band, I'd have you up on my wall. I'd have the hots for you, Joel!"

The X Factor 2017 airs on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning tonight at 8.00pm on ITV.