Host Josh Zepps on set.
|Created by||Chris Culvenor|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of episodes||54|
|Executive producer(s)||Chris Culvenor|
|Location(s)||Global Television Studios, Sydney
Sydney Opera House (finale)
|Original release||28 August 2006|
Idol Backstage was a companion show to Australian Idol distributed by Australia's largest telecommunications company, Telstra, and promoted in clips on the main show. It followed the pranks, gags and interviews of host Josh Zepps as he roamed behind the scenes of the Australian Idol set as the show went to air.
It was produced by Idol's production company, FremantleMedia, in the form of one commercial half-hour per week (22–24 minutes) over four clips. There were 54 episodes in total, with additional content available online and on mobile phones. It premiered on 28 August 2006.
Origins and Ratings
As the first major project of Fremantle Australia's "digital media" division, Idol Backstage marked a clear break in style from the rest of the Idol franchise. It sought to appeal to a young, tech-savvy audience with its under-the-radar guerilla mood and the off-the-wall comedy antics of host Josh Zepps.
The show was a strong success, with viewer numbers climbing exponentially week-on-week. Its online audience alone eclipsed that of its former television counterpart, Idol Extra, with total web video downloads of Idol clips reaching a record 2.5 million throughout the season. Traffic to the Idol website was up 40% on the previous year, reaching more than 26 million page impressions.
For the duration of Idol Backstage, Australian Idol was the most popular television program website in the country according to Nielsen/NetRatings Market Intelligence.
End of Idol Backstage
The fourth season of Australian Idol was one of the most successful seasons of an Australian television show, achieving a 59.9% market share in its final episode. However, the Ten Network, Fremantle Media, Telstra and the creative team behind Idol Backstage subsequently failed to reach an agreement about resuming production, prompting a "Bring Back Josh Zepps!" forum by fans on the Idol website.
The show's success inspired a Canadian spin-off, Canadian Idol: All Access, which debuted on CTV’s Broadband Network on 20 July 2007.
- The show's tongue-in-cheek big-band theme song was a running joke among fans. It was performed on the main stage by Zepps and the final eight Idols, and was referenced again at the very end of the show's final episode.
- Host Josh Zepps was also a popular impressionist on Australian radio, and pranked the four finalists by phoning them with a congratulatory call "from the Prime Minister".
- On Swing Night, the show was shot in black-&-white and Zepps conducted his interviews as a 1920s swing gangster with a top hat and cigar.
- For the final episode at the Sydney Opera House, Josh Zepps arrived by swimming through Sydney Harbour fully clothed after having "accidentally" turned up at the old studios.