A blurry line between the X-Factor and the strictly no-factor

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Alexandra Burke

When does a figure of public interest officially become celebrity fodder? At what point is it acceptable to have their personal life strewn across the press and their every cough and splutter turned into front page news?

Let’s be honest, there are those who blatantly court publicity, using every PR trick under the sun to gain valuable column inches. The good, the bad and the ugly who have waltzed on and off the dance floor on Strictly Come Dancing are bound to fall into that category, as they desperately seek a career boost with OK! and Hello! interviews and photo shoots! The same can also be said for the thousands of X-factor wannabes who consciously choose to face the wrath of Simon Cowell and the somewhat tamer scrutiny of Cheryl Cole. Despite her rather cringe worthy emotional outbursts and public displays of awe and admiration for Beyoncé and Cheryl, Alexandra Burke is surely a diva-in-the-making and has well and truly crossed the blurry line between true celeb status and the no-no factor.

The swathe of celebrity and non-celeb reality programmes shows no signs of fading – recycling has-beens and, in Alexandra’s case, longstanding wannabes (after Louis Walsh’s rejection three years ago).

Making sense of the celebrity obsession it seems is fairly straightforward. But, a chance encounter at our office Christmas party led me to question when that line becomes so blurry that ordinary people are cast into the media spotlight in sometimes unfortunate circumstances.

There, sitting no more than a few seats away from our jolly seasonal party, was Gerry McCann. The media circus that has surrounded his family since that fateful day on 3rd May 2007 when his daughter Madeline disappeared, has catapulted Gerry and his wife Kate into an unknown and perhaps unwelcome world of celebrity. Rightly or wrongly, we were just as captivated by his presence in the restaurant as we would have been had a Manchester United player or television star waltzed into the bar.

As a PR and “occasional” buyer of celeb magazines, I must be firmly at the top of the tree in helping to generate this OK!-fuelled culture that we remain so obsessed by. But, should we necessarily feel guilty for loving a ‘good spot’ – after all, the majority of people choose to be famous.