Star Academy, the show that "discovered" Jenifer, Nolwenn Leroy and Magalie Vaé (who?) during its nine seasons on TF1, and the Pop Idol-inspired Nouvelle Star which over eight years on M6 gave France the likes of Christophe Willem, Julien Doré, Amel Bent and Jonatan Cerrada (another "who"?) are back after an unregrettable absence.
|Manika Auxire (screenshot profile on Star Academy)|
You might have a little difficulty finding either of them as there was a reason why TF1 and M6 cancelled the shows.
But that hasn't stopped two of the country's digital terrestrial television (TNT) channels, repackaging clapped-out concepts in an effort to attract viewers.
While Nouvelle Star is still in the audition phase on the newly-relaunched D8, owned by the Canal + Group, Star Academy is well underway on NRJ 12.
There have already been two live prime time shows: the first to introduce the contestants to the viewing public, and the second to begin the process of weekly elimination.
And on the evidence so far, the least that can be said is there's far from being a bottomless pit of musical talent in France.
Well, that can surely be the only conclusion to be drawn by the inclusion among the 14 Star Academy competitors of a certain Manika Auxire.
The 22-year-old put in a show-stopping performance of the Carly-Rae Jepsen smash hit "Call me maybe" (Jepsen was herself the product of a TV talent show in Canada) during the opening programme.
Obviously not content with brutalising Jepsen's song, the former Miss Poitou-Charentes (aha...the real reason for her inclusion - to add "une touche de glamour" to the proceedings?) found herself among the three nominees threatened with elimination the following week and promptly massacred another tune...Zaz's 2010 hit, "Je veux".
Now for those of you with strong constitutions, you can hear just how talentless Auxire really is - well at least when it comes to singing.
Here's her version of "Call me maybe" followed by Jepsen's just for comparison.
And if you're a real glutton for punishment, speed through the whole of the second programme to discover her - thankfully - last TV warbling performance (for now) at one hour 21 minutes and 47 seconds - almost two minutes of aural torture.
Or you could always listen to Zaz.
A word of warning. Dowloading the full replay programme will take a while, so you've more than enough time to peel the spuds, wash the kitchen floor or wrap some Christmas presents.
But if you have both the patience and the masochistic tendency to hear how awful she is, you might want to dull the pain with a very stiff something-or-other beforehand.
The woman can't sing - in tune at least - and perhaps it's not surprising the French have the expression "chante comme une casserole", although that's being a little unkind to saucepans.