|Presented by||Davina McCall (Live final episode)|
|Narrated by||Daniel Hill|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Running time||60 – 120 mins|
|Production company(s)||London Weekend Television|
|Original run||10 January 2001– 18 March 2001|
|Followed by||Popstars: The Rivals|
Popstars is a UK talent show series that was broadcast on ITV in early 2001. It was the first UK series of the international Popstars franchise, and was billed as a documentary on the formation of a modern pop group. The series began with audition rounds of aspiring singers (good and bad) performing songs before a panel of judges. The best performers were selected to come to London for further rounds of auditions. Over the weeks, the judges eliminated various singers from the auditions until just a few singers were left in contention. In the final weeks, five contestants were chosen by the judges to form the new pop group Hear’Say. The programme then showed the group recording and promoting their first single, documenting their first ventures into the music industry.
The first series of Popstars proved popular with audiences, and a second series (named Popstars: The Rivals) followed in 2002.
Unlike the modern Idol or X Factor television series, which are presented as singing contests with public votes, the original UK series of Popstars was presented as a documentary, looking at the formation of a modern pop group from the auditions through to the first released single. There was no public vote, rather the panel of judges decided on which aspiring singers formed the group.
After the formation of the group (called Hear'Say), the programme documented the group recording and promoting their first single ("Pure and Simple"), with the series ending on the night the single charted in the UK Singles Chart (The single went straight to number 1).
Daniel Hill was the narrator of the series and Davina McCall was the host of the final episode, which was broadcast live on the night that Hear'Say's first single entered the chart in a simulcast with Mark Goodier on the Top 40 show on BBC Radio 1.
- Nigel Lythgoe, (dubbed "Nasty Nigel" by the British press) was the most outspoken judge on the panel. With a judging style to be emulated later by Simon Cowell, Lythgoe later went on to be head judge on So You Think You Can Dance
- Nicki Chapman, music promoter, who later featured in the judging panel of Pop Idol alongside Simon Cowell
- Paul Adam, director of A&R at Polydor Records
Notable acts and performers
The winners of the series — Danny Foster, Myleene Klass, Kym Marsh, Suzanne Shaw and Noel Sullivan — formed the group Hear'Say. Hear’Say went on to sell three million records worldwide, and scored two UK number-one singles before disbanding eighteen months after their formation. Today, Klass is a television presenter, while Marsh and Shaw are actors in television soap operas. Sullivan is a West End theatre performer, while Foster has made occasional appearances in reality television shows, including the The Voice UK in 2013.
The other five finalists in the first Popstars series (who were not selected to join the group) formed their own pop group called Liberty X (consisting of Michelle Heaton, Tony Lundon, Kevin Simm, Jessica Taylor and Kelli Young). Liberty X went on to be commercially more successful than Hear'Say, achieving ten consecutive UK top 20 singles before their split in 2006.
Darius Danesh was another noted auditionee in the first series of Popstars. Danesh was seen as an early favourite on the show, but was eliminated halfway through the series after performing an 'alternative' version of Britney Spears's "...Baby One More Time" to the judges. Danesh went on to compete in the first series of Pop Idol, finishing third. He then had a successful solo career as a recording artist before becoming a West End theatre performer.
The first series of Popstars proved popular with audiences, and was a ratings hit for ITV. However, Simon Fuller used the Popstars format as inspiration for his new TV show Pop Idol, which was broadcast on ITV soon after Popstars. Pop Idol, which included audience voting and live performances, proved even more popular than Popstars with the viewing public, and these elements were worked into the second series of Popstars (named Popstars: The Rivals) which included audience polls and live singing. In 2004, another show based on Popstars, which went on to become even more popular than Popstars or Pop Idol, was created by Simon Cowell—The X Factor.
Episodes & Ratings
|Episode||Air date||Description||Official ITV rating
|1||10 January 2001||The first round of open auditions||7.75||23|
|2||13 January 2001||The second round of open auditions||7.01||24|
|3||20 January 2001||Boot Camp round where people are let go||8.06||25|
|4||27 January 2001||8.81||21|
|5||31 January 2001||10.51||15|
|6||3 February 2001||The Judges select the final 10 contesetants from who the band will be chosen||11.35||8|
|7||3 February 2001||The final five to be in the band are told, with the others rejected||12.63||6|
|8||10 February 2001||The band travel to Norway to record their first album||10.64||11|
|9||17 February 2001||8.47||20|
|10||24 February 2001||8.83||18|
|11||3 March 2001||7.57||24|
|12||10 March 2001||8.06||20|
|13||18 March 2001||A live show tied in with the Top 40 chart to reveal the position of their first single||7.22||24|
- Malone, Maria (1 February 2001). Popstars - the Making of a Band. André Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-99941-8.
- Wilkes, Neil (2 February 2001). "Popstars: The Winners". Digital Spy. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
- Wilkes, Neil (4 February 2001). "Popstars winners revealed". Digital Spy. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
- "Weekly Viewing Summary (see relevant week)". BARB.