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Zoe Birkett (born 16 June 1985, Consett, County Durham, England) was one of the youngest contestants on the first series of the ITV singing competition Pop Idol, being only 16 at the time. She began attending stage school when she was just three years old. Birkett had had hopes of being a performer and had previously auditioned unsuccessfully to be in S Club 7, finishing in the final 12.
In the first series of Pop Idol, Birkett finished fourth, behind Will Young, Gareth Gates and Darius Danesh, and being the highest placed female on the show. During the programme, she performed such songs as Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time", "I Will Always Love You" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"; Aretha Franklin's "I Say a Little Prayer"; ABBA's "Thank You For the Music" and Judy Garland's "Get Happy". After the show, Birkett was the warm-up act on Pop Idol winners Will Young's and Gareth Gates' tour where she performed in front of 18,000 people. She performed three songs for Pop Idol: The Big Band Album.
In 2003, Birkett signed a recording contract with 19 Recordings and released one single, "Treat Me Like a Lady", on 13 January 2003. The track was co-written by fellow Pop Idol contestant Sarah Whatmore, but only reached number 12 in the UK Singles Chart on 25 January. This quickly drifted down the chart and faded. Soon after, Birkett was dropped by the record label.
Birkett appeared in Robert C. Kelly's production of In Town Tonight at the Glasgow Kings Theatre and then went on to star in pantomime in her home town of Darlington, along with Big Brother contestant Anthony Hutton. She has more recently toured the country with What A Feeling – a tribute to musicals such as Saturday Night Fever, Fame, Flashdance, Grease and many more – with Noel Sullivan and 1980s pop singer Sinitta. At the time, she was engaged to Pop Idol 2 runner-up Mark Rhodes; however the pair later split up and Birkett began dating her panto co-star Hutton.
In October 2006, she and Sullivan flew to Las Vegas to host a show called Cover Girls in the Golden Nugget Casino. She now lives in Darlington. Birkett starred in Thriller – Live from May to June 2007, playing the lead female role. During 2008, Birkett has appeared in many shows, including West End Rocks, another tribute to musicals such as Fame, Grease and Flashdance. Towards the end of 2008, Zoe toured the UK and Europe with Thriller – Live.
Birkett landed herself a major West End role in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, from March 2009. Birkett left the show in March 2010, along with fellow performer, Kate Gillespie. She was succeeded by Charlotte Riby.
In November 2011, she recorded a version of Eva Cassidy's "You've Changed", for inclusion in the Singers Inc album. As of October 2013 Birkett has taken over the role of Lead Female in Thriller Live, a musical concert dedicated to the music of The Jackson Five and Michael Jackson.
- Hubbard, Michael (24 January 2003). "Zoe Birkett hopes for Idol success". BBC News. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
- Hubbard, Michael. Zoe Birkett hopes for Idol success, BBC, 24 January 2003. Accessed on 27 May 2008
- "iTunes – Music – Treat Me Like a Lady – EP by Zoe Birkett". Itunes.apple.com. 13 January 2003. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Roberts, David. Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums. Guinness World Records Ltd 17th edition (2004), p. 60 ISBN 0-85112-199-3
- Neil, Beth. Where Are They Now?, Daily Mirror, 30 September 2006. Accessed on 27 May 2008.
- Zoe's cast page on the Thriller Live website[dead link]
- "Respect La Diva | Olt". Officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Bassett, Kate (29 March 2009). "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Palace Theatre, London". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 14 July 2010.