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Popstars The Rivals
Popstars The Rivals.jpg
Popstars The Rivals logo
Genre Interactive reality, talent show
Presented by Davina McCall
Judges Pete Waterman
Louis Walsh
Geri Halliwell
Country of origin United Kingdom
Language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Nigel Hall
Duncan Gray
Producer(s) Claudia Rosencrantz
Nicholas Steinberg
Running time 60 – 120 minutes
Production company(s) London Weekend Television
Distributor ITV
Original channel ITV1 (Popstars The Rivals)
ITV2 (Popstars The Rivals: Extra)
Original run 7 September 2002 (2002-09-07) – 22 December 2002 (2002-12-22)
Status Off air
Preceded by Popstars
Related shows Pop Idol
The X Factor (UK)
External links
Official website

Popstars The Rivals (often stylised as Popstars: The Rivals) was an interactive reality, talent show broadcast in the United Kingdom during late 2002. It is the second series of the British Popstars franchise. Unlike the first series of Popstars, which resulted in the formation of one winning group – Hear’Say - Popstars The Rivals created two rival groups who competed against each other for the Christmas Number One spot on the UK Singles Chart. This show created Girls Aloud and One True Voice.

Popstars The Rivals aired on ITV1 on Saturday nights from 7 September 2002, beginning with three pre-recorded episodes of preliminary audition rounds, before switching to live broadcasts of studio performances. During the rounds of live show, viewers voted for their favourite performers by telephone and the Red Button on digital television remote controls. In the final weeks, five females and five males were chosen by the British public to form the two groups, boyband One True Voice, and girlgroup Girls Aloud. The final episode of Popstars The Rivals aired live on 22 December 2002. During the broadcast, Pepsi Chart Show presenter Neil Fox revealed in a live link-up that "Sound of the Underground" recorded by Girls Aloud had reached Number one on the Singles Chart, thereby becoming the Christmas Number One. One True Voice's double A-side single, "Sacred Trust/After You're Gone" entered the chart at Number Two.

The series is hosted by Davina McCall, with the performances judged by Pete Waterman, Louis Walsh and Geri Halliwell. In addition to the main show, Popstars The Rivals: Extra aired on ITV2, presented by popstar Dane Bowers and Pop Idol finalist Hayley Evetts.




Popstars The Rivals drew on the success of the first series of Popstars, which aired during the winter months of 2000 and 2001,[1] and Pop Idol, which aired in the winter months of 2001–2002.[2] Popstars resulted in the formation of one winning pop group, Hear’Say,[3][4] who was selected solely by the judges,[1] but Pop Idol made extensive use of viewer interactivity with the home audience voting for their favourite act to win the competition either via the show's official website or by calling premium-rate telephone numbers.[2] In the months since Popstars finished, the five runners-up of the show had formed their own group, Liberty X, and were enjoying more commercial success than Hear’Say. The British media had also begun to create a rivalry between the two groups.

The Popstars producers drew upon this rivalry for Popstars The Rivals to create two winning pop groups, a boy band and a girl group, in a "battle of the sexes",[5] to vie for the Christmas Number One spot in the UK Singles Chart, a traditionally competitive time in the British music market. To further the rivalry, members of the public were to select who would remain in the show by voting for their favourite acts using premium-rate telephone numbers, text messaging, via the Popstars website, and with the Red Button on digital television remote controls. Each week, the singer with the fewest public votes would be eliminated from the competition until five males and five females remained, who would then form the two rival groups. Elements of Channel 4's Big Brother, which aired during the summer months since 2000,[6] were used in Popstars The Rivals when the final ten boys and final ten girls moved into two houses and lived together, watched by television cameras.


The series was presented by Davina McCall,[7] who had hosted the Popstars finale in 2001,[8] and also hosted Big Brother, God's Gift, Streetmate, Don't Try This at Home, and the 2001 BRIT Awards.[9] Former Another Level singer Dane Bowers and former Popstars and Pop Idol contestant Hayley Evetts presented Popstars The Rivals: Extra on ITV2.[10][11]


Neither Nigel Lythgoe, Paul Adam nor Nicki Chapman, the three judges from the first series of Popstars, returned for Popstars The Rivals. Lythgoe had left ITV to work with Simon Fuller at 19 Entertainment and become the executive producer of Pop Idol and American Idol,[9] although he initially expressed an interest in appearing.[12] Chapman also went to 19, where she managed the careers of Pop Idol winner and runner-up Will Young and Gareth Gates.[9] Adam turned down the opportunity to return as he was too busy working as a music executive at RCA Records.[9]

The judges for Popstars The Rivals were announced as record producer and songwriter Pete Waterman, who as part of 1980–90s production trio Stock Aitken Waterman had worked with Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley and Steps amongst others; Geri Halliwell, who rose to fame as part of Spice Girls and later had a career as a solo popstar;[5][7][9] and Chris Evans, who had presented breakfast shows on BBC Radio 1 and Virgin Radio, and The Big Breakfast and TFI Friday on Channel 4.[13] Evans later decided not to appear, and after approaching Sharon Osbourne,[14] producers chose Louis Walsh, a music manager who had represented Boyzone, Samantha Mumba, Ronan Keating and Westlife, and who had judged on the 2001 Irish edition of Popstars as the third judge.[9][15]

Audition rounds

Initial auditions began on 9 August 2002 at the Wembley Conference Centre in London.[16] and continued in a number of cities around the United Kingdom. This stage of the competition was broadcast over three episodes, with auditions taking place in London[17], Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester.[18]. Most contestants were invited to audition after sending in video tapes of themselves singing, but open auditions were also held at Wembley Conference Centre in Wembley, London on 9 August 2002 and at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester a week later. This was in response to the massive demand of the original Popstars series which had seen thousands turned away due to time restraints.[19] Just two of the hopefuls advanced from the London open auditions.[20]

Live finals

The live shows took on a format where each week either the girls or boys would each perform. After the performances had ended the public voted for who they wanted to keep. In the inital episodes, the three contestants with the lowest number of votes went into the bottom three. One was immediately told they were safe and the other two had a nervous wait before one was saved. In weeks 3 and 4, two contestants were eliminated from each category. The person who was knocked out had to sing again at the end of the show after seeing a montage of their competition journey.

In the final, the six remaining male and female singers performed. At the end of the show, five of the boys formed One True Voice and five of the girls formed Girls Aloud.

The first live show was broadcast on ITV1 on 12 October 2002. The live final took place over two weeks, a couple of weeks before Christmas on 23 November for the boys and 30 November for the girls.


Ten male and ten female finalists were chosen to perform in the live shows.[21][22] There was some controversy as one of the original finalists, Hazel Kaneswaren, was forced to pull out of the show because she was 10 days too old at the time of the auditions. The show had an age limit of 24 and Hazel had just turned 25. Her situation was further complicated by the fact that she was eight months pregnant. She had the baby in October 2002.[23]

Kimberley Walsh, one of the girls who did not make the final 10, took Kaneswaren's place for the live shows. Nicola Roberts, who also failed to make it through, replaced 19 year old Nicola Ward who quit the show over what she considered "exploitation" of contestants by the producers.[24]

Category Acts
Boys Daniel Pearce (23) Anton Gordon (19) Andrew Kinlochlan (23) Peter Smith (23) Michael Green (21)
Chris Park (20) Keith Semple (20) Jamie Shaw (17) Matt Johnson (16) Nikk Mager (18)
Girls Sarah Harding (20) Aimee Kearsley (16) Cheryl Tweedy (19) Emma Beard (18) Kimberley Walsh (20)
Lynsey Brown (19) Nicola Roberts (16) Nadine Coyle (17) Javine Hylton (20) Chloe Staines (18)

Results summary

Live show details

Week 1 (12 October 2002)

Category performing: Boys

Order Artist Song (original artists) Results
1 Daniel Pearce Against All Odds (Phil Collins) Safe
2 Jamie Shaw When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman (Dr Hook and the Medicine Show) Bottom Three
3 Keith Semple Reach Out I'll Be There (The Four Tops) Safe
4 Andrew Kinlochlan Hard to Say I'm Sorry (Chicago) Eliminated
5 Nikk Mager A Little Bit More (911) Safe
6 Mikey Green Drive Safe
7 Peter Smith Since I Don't Have You (The Skyliners) Safe
8 Matthew Johnson Amazed (Lonestar) Safe
9 Chris Park More Than a Woman Bottom Two
10 Anton Gordon Same Old Song (The Four Tops) Safe

Bottom three: Jamie Shaw, Chris Park and Andrew Kinlochlan received the lowest number of votes and ended up in the bottom three. Jamie was told that he was safe, leaving Andrew and Chris in the bottom two. Andrew was eliminated.[25]

Week 2 (19 October 2002)

Category performing: Girls

Order Artist Song (original artists) Results
1 Javine Hylton (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman Safe
2 Chloe Staines Where Do Broken Hearts Go Safe
3 Lynsey Brown All Around the World (Lisa Stansfield) Eliminated
4 Cheryl Tweedy Now That I've Found You Safe
5 Sarah Harding Build Me Up Buttercup Safe
6 Nadine Coyle Show Me Heaven Safe
7 Kimberley Walsh Baby Can I Hold You Bottom Three
8 Nicola Roberts River Deep Mountain High Safe
9 Aimee Kearsley Never Had a Dream Come True (S Club 7) Safe
10 Emma Beard You Might Need Somebody Bottom Two

Bottom three: Linsey Brown, Emma Beard and Kimberley Walsh received the lowest number of votes and ended up in the bottom three. Kimberley was told that she was safe, leaving Linsey and Emma in the bottom two. Linsey was eliminated.[26]

Week 3 (26 October 2002)

Category performing: Boys

Order Artist Song (original artists) Results
1 Chris Park You Take My Breath Away Safe
2 Mikey Greene I Want You Back Safe
3 Peter Smith I Just Called To Say I Love You Eliminated*
4 Nikk Mager Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow Eliminated
5 Anton Gordon Cherish Safe
6 Keith Semple Over My Shoulder Safe
7 Matthew Johnson Everything I Own Safe
8 Jamie Shaw I Only Have Eyes For You Safe
9 Daniel Pearce Celebration Safe

*Note: Two of the male contestants were due to be eliminated via the public vote in this show. However in the results show, Peter Smith shocked everyone (including the judges) as he announced that he was actually several months too old to be involved in the competition and left the show. This meant that only one of the singers would be voted out by the television audience and there was no bottom three.

Nikk Mager received the lowest number of votes and was eliminated.[27]

Week 4 (2 November 2002)

Category performing: Girls

Order Artist Song (original artists) Results
1 Javine Hylton Let's Stay Together Safe
2 Aimee Kearsley I Only Want To Be With You Safe
3 Emma Beard Be My Baby (The Ronettes) Eliminated
4 Chloe Staines Rescue Me (Fontella Bass) Eliminated
5 Nicola Roberts Shout Safe
6 Kimberley Walsh Unbreak My Heart Bottom Four
7 Sarah Harding Anyone Who Had a Heart Safe
8 Cheryl Tweedy Still The One Bottom Four
9 Nadine Coyle Fields of Gold Safe

Davina announced at the beginning of the show that two girls would be leaving the competition this week.

All the girls got positive comments from at least two of the three judges. Nadine received the best verdict from the judges. After she had performed "Fields of Gold", Louis told her "The performance of the night. Stole the show for me" while Geri said "I'd love to buy a single of yours already".[28]

The girls were split into two groups and were told that one girl would be eliminated from each group. The four girls with the lowest votes were Kimberley Walsh, Chloe Staines, Emma Beard and Cheryl Tweedy. Chloe and Emma were the two girls who were knocked out.[29]

Week 5 (9 November 2002)

Category performing: Boys

Order Artist Song (original artists) Results
1 Mikey Greene Hello Eliminated
2 Chris Park If You Don't Know Me By Now Safe
3 Daniel Pearce For Once In My Life Safe
4 Matthew Johnson Pray Bottom Two
5 Anton Gordon You Can't Hurry Love Bottom Three
6 Keith Semple Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word Safe
7 Jamie Shaw Working My Way Back To You Safe

Bottom three: Only one contestant was eliminated this week. Anton Gordon, Mikey Greene and Matthew Johnson received the lowest number of votes and ended up in the bottom three. Anton was told that he was safe, leaving Mikey and Matthew in the bottom two. Mikey was eliminated.[30]

Week 6 (16 November 2002)

Category performing: Girls

Order Artist Song (original artists) Results
1 Aimee Kearsley You Keep Me Hanging On Eliminated
2 Javine Hylton End of the Road Safe
3 Nicola Roberts The Wind Beneath My Wings Safe
4 Sarah Harding I'll Be There Bottom Four
5 Kimberley Walsh Emotions Bottom Four
6 Nadine Coyle When I Fall In Love Safe
7 Cheryl Tweedy Nothing Compares to You Bottom Two

Nadine, Javine and Nicola found out they had made it to the final when the results were announced. Cheryl, Sarah, Kimberley and Aimee knew that one of them would be heading home. Davina then revealed that Sarah and Kimberley were through, leaving Cheryl and Aimee pushing for the one remaining spot. Aimee was eliminated.[31]

Week 7 - Boys final

The boys' final was broadcast on ITV1 on November 23, 2002. Each of the singers performed one song before the public voted for who they wanted in the band. The contestants knew that one of them would miss out.

Order Artist Song (original artists) Results
1 Keith Semple You Are So Beautiful Qualified
2 Daniel Pearce Candle in the Wind Qualified
3 Matthew Johnson I'll Be There for You  Qualified
4 Anton Gordon I Believe I Can Fly Qualified
5 Jamie Shaw Everybody Hurts Bottom two - qualified
6 Chris Park With a Little Help From My Friends Eliminated

Results: Davina McCall returned in the results show to announce the five boys who had qualified. Matthew Johnson became the first member and he was followed by Keith Semple, Daniel Pearce and Anton Gordon. This left Jamie Shaw and Chris Park fighting for the last remaining spot. Davina revealed that Jamie was the final member of the band, meaning Chris was eliminated.[32]

Week 8 - Girls final

The girls final was broadcast on ITV1 a week later. As with the boys there were six contestants remaining so one would lose out on a place in the band.

Order Artist Song (original artists) Results
1 Sarah Harding Holding Out for a Hero Bottom two - qualified
2 Nadine Coyle I Wanna Dance With Somebody Qualified
3 Kimberley Walsh Chain Reaction Qualified
4 Javine Hylton I'm Every Woman Eliminated
5 Nicola Roberts I'm So Excited Qualified
6 Cheryl Tweedy Right Here Waiting Qualified

Note: Sarah was suffering from a sore throat prior to the live show but still managed to perform.

Results: Davina returned in the results show to reveal the lucky five who had made the band. Cheryl was the first to hear her name called out, despite the negative comments from the judges, and she was joined by Nicola, Nadine and Kimberley. Sarah and Javine were therefore in the bottom and Sarah eventually found out she was to become the fifth member of the group. Javine was eliminated.[33]

Christmas Number One

A week after Girls Aloud had been formed, ITV broadcast a special show on 22 December 2002 to reveal which of the two groups (if either) had made it to number one in the UK Singles Chart. The show connected with Neil Fox at the Official Chart Show studios where he ran down the top 10 singles before revealing the act that had charted highest. Girls Aloud were the lucky ones, with their song "Sound of the Underground" reaching number one with first week sales of around 213,000. "Sacred Trust"/"After You're Gone", the double A-side from One True Voice went straight in at number two having sold close to 137,000 copies, while another Popstars The Rivals act, The Cheeky Girls charted at number three.[34] "Sound of the Underground" remained at number one for four weeks in total, stretching into 2003.

The girls performed their new single live together for the second time at the end of the programme. Both acts had premiered their debut singles a couple of weeks before on Popstars The Rivals .


A number of the participants in the show went on to have careers in music with varying success:


  • Following on from their Christmas number one, the female winners Girls Aloud released their debut album "Sound of the Underground" in May 2003 and it went to Number 2 in the UK albums chart. They released three singles in 2003 which charted in the top 3 in the UK. They have been successful in achieving a string of 20 consecutive UK Top 10 singles (including four number ones), two UK number one albums, and having been nominated for four BRIT Awards, winning Best Single in 2009 for "The Promise".
  • One True Voice, the winning male group, had a very different level of success. After the disappointment of missing out on the top spot with their debut single and despite the Popstars The Rivals joint tour with Girls Aloud being cancelled due to poor sales[35], they released a further single entitled "Shakespeare's (Way With) Words" which only just reached the top 10 in the summer of 2003. Daniel Pearce quit the group at the beginning of June 2003 and, despite the band denying reports that the group was going to split[36], they inevitably broke up in August 2003.[37]
  • Pearce later went on to audition for the 2009 series of The X Factor, reaching the judges' houses stage before being eliminated.

Other contestants

  • The five boys who did not make it into One True Voice formed the group Phixx after being given a £500,000 record deal with independent record label Concept Records who had previously taken on original Popstars rejects Liberty X.[38]
  • Four of the five girls who failed to qualify for Girls Aloud (excluding Javine) created CLEA (the name comes from each girl's initials).
  • Javine Hylton decided to pursue a career as a solo artist. She was also chosen as the Great Britain's representative at the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest, singing a song called "Touch My Fire"[39]
  • Two girls from Romania who did not make it past the auditions, Monica and Gabriela, were given a record deal to release songs as The Cheeky Girls. They charted one place behind One True Voice in the 2002 Christmas countdown with "The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)" and released an album entitled PartyTime. They also released several more singles, including "Take Your Shoes Off" and "Hooray Hooray It's A Cheeky Holiday".
  • Former CLEA member Aimee Kearsley and Emma Beard formed a group named LoveShy and attempted to be the British entry for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. They were knocked out by other girl group The Revelations.
  • Former Phixx member Nikk Mager auditioned for The X Factor in 2008, in front of Cheryl Cole, whom he had known from the audition stages in Popstars The Rivals. He failed to make it through the auditions.
  • Stephanie McMichael, a contestant who pretended she was 16 but then revealed she was 13, later went on and appeared as a contestant on Big Brother 2008. She was the first to be evicted, and later released a single called "Camera Shy", and went on to audition for The X Factor.


Programme Episode UK Air Date Timeslot Viewers (millions)[40] Weekly Rank
1  ?? 7 September 2002 19:15 7,660,000 19
2  ?? 14 September 2002 19:15 7,630,000 13
3  ?? 21 September 2002 19:10 6,880,000 15
4  ?? 28 September 2002 19:00 7,000,000 14
5  ?? 5 October 2002 19:00 7,760,000 12
6  ?? 5 October 2002 21:15 6,470,000 17
7  ?? 6 October 2002 19:00 5,270,000 24
8  ?? 12 October 2002 20:25 6,640,000 16
9  ?? 12 October 2002  ?? N/A N/A
10  ?? 19 October 2002 19:00 7,240,000 16
11  ?? 19 October 2002  ?? N/A N/A
12  ?? 26 October 2002 19:00 7,440,000 15
13  ?? 26 October 2002 21:05 7,410,000 16
14  ?? 2 November 2002 19:00 7,160,000 15
15  ?? 2 November 2002 21:05 6,830,000 19
16  ?? 9 November 2002 19:10 7,240,000 16
17  ?? 9 November 2002  ?? N/A N/A
18  ?? 16 November 2002 19:05 7,300,000 17
19  ?? 16 November 2002  ?? N/A N/A
20  ?? 23 November 2002 18:55 7,180,000 16
21  ?? 23 November 2002 20:55 8,900,000 10
22  ?? 30 November 2002 18:55 7,290,000 14
23  ?? 30 November 2002 20:55 8,540,000 10
24  ?? 7 December 2002 19:35 7,200,000 16
25  ?? 14 December 2002 18:45 5,430,000 24
26  ?? 22 December 2002 18:30 6,010,000 20


McDonald's sponsored the show in a £4 million deal which covered the programmes on ITV1 and ITV2 and the official website. The sponsorship provided promotion for the show nationwide in McDonald's restaurants. Martin Strowde, the sponsorship director at Granada Television said "We're delighted that McDonald's has teamed up with us for what promises to be the most exciting hit this autumn".[41]


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  2. ^ a b Solanas, Sian (1 March 2002). Pop Idol: The Official Inside Story of the ITV Series. Carlton. ISBN 1842225367. 
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  12. ^ Wilkes, Neil (4 February 2002). "Popstars 2: Nasty Nigel to return?". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  13. ^ Wilkes, Neil (7 July 2002). "Evans, Halliwell signed up for "Popstars: The Rivals"". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  14. ^ Wilkes, Neil (14 July 2002). "Sharon Osbourne lined up for "Popstars"". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  15. ^ Wilkes, Neil (28 July 2002). "Walsh replaces Evans on "Popstars" judging panel". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  16. ^ "Hopefuls' Popstars dreams dashed". BBC News. 9 August 2002. Retrieved 10 November 2009. 
  17. ^ Popstars: The Rivals: Open Auditions - 1
  18. ^ Popstars: The Rivals: Open Auditions - 3
  19. ^ "Hundreds turn out for "Popstars" auditions". Digital Spy. 9 August 2002. Retrieved 27 December 2008. 
  20. ^ "Two move on to next round in "Popstars"". Digital Spy. 10 August 2002. Retrieved 27 December 2008. 
  21. ^ "Final 20 in Popstars:The Rivals". BBC News. 7 October 2002. Retrieved 28 December 2008. 
  22. ^ "First Popstars line-up unveiled". Rewind Motion Pictures. Retrieved 28 December 2008. 
  23. ^ "Popstars contestant has baby". BBC News. 4 October 2002. 
  24. ^ "Nicola Ward quits Popstars: The Rivals". The Internet Forum. 
  25. ^ "Episode 9 details (Live show 1)".;recap. 
  26. ^ "Episode 10 details (Live show 2)".;recap. 
  27. ^ "Episode 11 details (Live show 3)".;recap. 
  28. ^ "Popstars Girls: What the judges said". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 November 2008. 
  29. ^ "Episode 12 details (Live show 4)".;recap. 
  30. ^ "Episode 13 details (Live show 5)".;recap. 
  31. ^ "Episode 14 details (Live show 6)".;recap. 
  32. ^ "Week 15 (Live show 7 - Boys Final)".;recap. Retrieved 2 December 2008. 
  33. ^ "Week 16 (Live show 8 - Girls final".;recap. Retrieved 2 December 2008. 
  34. ^ "Girls Aloud win Christmas Number One". Digital Spy. 22 December 2002. 
  35. ^ BBC News (19 February 2003). "Popstars dismiss tour setback". Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  36. ^ BBC News (10 June 2003). "One True Voice deny split". Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  37. ^ BBC News (13 August 2003). "Reality pop band confirm split". Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  38. ^ Newsround (29 August 2003). "Phixx gets £500,000 record deal". Retrieved 23 November 2008. 
  39. ^ "Javine goes East for Eurovision". BBC News. 16 May 2005. Retrieved 28 November 2008. 
  40. ^ "Weekly Viewing Summary (see relevant week)". BARB. 
  41. ^ "McDonald's to sponsor "Popstars"". Digital Spy. 24 July 2002. Retrieved 27 December 2008. 

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