The search for this year’s The X Factor 2012 champion got underway on Saturday night, as the ninth series kicked off with the first round of auditions.

And some early contenders for glory have already emerged following the first show, which screened highlights from London and Manchester and featured guest judge Mel B, as well as new panel member Nicole Scherzinger joining Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh.

Among those making an early impression was Asda worker Jahmene Douglas from Swindon, who wowed the judges with his rendition of the Etta James classic At Last.

Louis described the 21-year-old as “a revelation” adding, “You have got the X Factor, you are what we are looking for. I think a star is born.”

And Tulisa added, “You not only have the X Factor, you have got the shock factor.”

Also among those faring well was 16-year-old Ella Henderson, whose self-penned track dedicated to her late grandfather managed to move even Mel B.

“What we just witnessed was incredible,” the Spice girl told the teenager, while Gary Barlow described her performance as “out of this world”.

And 18-year-old Curtis Golden, who took to the stage with his guitar, was another successful act, despite not getting the backing of Mel B, who called his offbeat rendition of Candyman “irritating”. Nonetheless he won himself a place at boot camp.

However it didn’t stop the singer from also blasting a string of other hopefuls, earning her the nickname “Grumpy Spice” as she lashed out at the performers.

She told blonde student Maria that she “should not be singing”, while said of London teenager Lucy, “You look like a pop star but you don’t sound like one.”

However Mel’s most controversial moment came when she slagged off 82-year-old Louis Dilke after he had performed Adele’s Make You Feel My Love.

“I actually wanted to fall asleep,” she told the shocked pensioner, who had been given good reviews by the other judges, and prompting Gary to respond, “After the comments today, I’ll be surprised if you sleep tonight.”

Saturday’s show brought further controversy with the audition of Zoe Alexander, who stormed off the stage, pushing staff and swearing after being told that her performance had not been good enough to make it to the next round.

The Pink lookalike initially sung the Pink track So What before being given a second chance and performing Emeli Sande’s Next To Me – but it was still not good enough for the judges, prompting her furious outburst.

“I think you need to go and find yourself and come back as Zoe,” Louis said, while Gary agreed. “You need to go away and find what’s right for your voice because at the moment it just sounds like every other average sort of singing voice.”