Popstars (British TV series)

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Popstars UK.jpg
GenreReality competition
Presented byDavina McCall
JudgesNigel Lythgoe
Nicki Chapman
Paul Adam
Narrated byDaniel Hill
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes13
Running time60–120 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production company(s)LWT
DistributorITV Studios
Original networkITV
Original release10 January (2001-01-10) –
18 March 2001 (2001-03-18)
Followed byPopstars: The Rivals
External links

Popstars was a short-lived reality music talent show 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 programme began with audition rounds of aspiring singers performing covers of classic 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, but used a vastly different format, heavily influenced by the success of Pop Idol. Another follow-up, Soap Stars, used the original Popstars format to find actors for a new family in ITV's hit soap Emmerdale, but neither the show, nor the winners' roles in Emmerdale, were deemed a success.


Unlike the modern Idol or The X Factor television franchises, which are presented as singing contests with public votes, the original British 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.[1]

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).[2]

Daniel Hill was the narrator of the programme 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.


Notable acts and performers[edit]

The winners of the series — Danny Foster, Myleene Klass, Kym Marsh, Suzanne Shaw and Noel Sullivan — formed the group Hear'Say.[3] 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 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 2007.

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.

Contestant Warren Stacey was signed to Def Jam Recordings in 2001 and reached number 26 on the UK Singles Chart with his debut hit "My Girl My Girl".


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 CowellThe X Factor.

Episodes & Ratings[edit]

Episode Air date Description Official ITV rating
Weekly rank[4]
1 10 January 2001 The first round of open auditions at venue around the UK 7.75 23
2 13 January 2001 The second round of open auditions at venues around the UK 7.01 24
3 20 January 2001 Boot Camp in Birmingham round where people are let go 8.06 25
4 27 January 2001 Boot Camp in London where more people are let go 8.81 21
5 31 January 2001 The Judges select the final 10 contestants from who the band will be chosen 10.51 15
6 3 February 2001 The Judges discuss who from the last ten should make the final five 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 The band start to get press attention 8.47 20
10 24 February 2001 The band record their debut single "Pure and Simple" 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


  1. ^ Malone, Maria (1 February 2001). Popstars - the Making of a Band. André Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-99941-8.
  2. ^ Wilkes, Neil (2 February 2001). "Popstars: The Winners". Digital Spy. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  3. ^ Wilkes, Neil (4 February 2001). "Popstars winners revealed". Digital Spy. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Weekly Viewing Summary (see relevant week)". BARB.

External links[edit]