I was in Woolies yesterday (on the way to interviewing Mike Monroe) looking for some Star Wars stuff when I came across a huge stand full of X Factor toys.

To be more precise these were big red plastic instruments and they were half price.

Nothing too shocking there then. Who’d want to line Simon Cowell’s considerable – and high-hitched – pockets during a recession?

But what did make me gasp was the fact that X Factor chiefs were selling plastic drum kits and electric guitars.

Now can somebody tell me the last time and electric guitar – plastic or otherwise – made it onto X Factor?

Can anyone, anywhere dig out footage from one of the ‘live shows’ when a contestant was featured hugging a fret board…

…or find pictures of a wannabe megastar taking centre stage surrounded by several drums and a cymbal?

No? Thought not.

X Factor’s decision to sell their version of the staples of any good rock band’s armoury is, quite frankly, shameful.

When was the last time Cowell, Ditsy Dannii, old man Louis or the quite sensational Cheryl did anything for rock?

When was the last time the UK’s biggest reality show unearthed the next Def Leppard, Iron Maiden or Free?

The answer is never.

And yet in some twisted attempt at cashing in on the Guitar Hero phenomenon, that horrific Saturday night cheese fest thinks it’s OK to sell placcy guitars boasting great big X’s to kids.

In truth shows like X Factor are quite capable of turning talented young musos right off rock forever.

The programme promotes plastic pop (as well as plastic guitars) at its most base level and the only instruments are voices.

I, for one, would be a regular viewer if Slash stepped in for Danni, Cowell turned into Cozy Powell and the little Leprechaun made way for Thin Lizzy.

Of course I’d still advocate Cheryl as a judge simply because she’s a Geordie and drop dead gorgeous. Then again, if Lita Ford was available…

But it’s never going to happen. And across the country X Factor tat is being sold as a poor substitute for Fender Strats and Les Paul copies. Even if it is half price.

Of course rock doesn’t need reality TV to unearth the X Factor. Only this week in the Toon we’ve enjoyed Paul Rodgers and Mike Monroe. Still to come are Lemmy and Biff.

These are the blokes with pure, unadulterated X Factor. These are the people with talent. These are the stars who would make me want to buy a plastic guitar.

Simon Rushworth