Popstars: The Rivals is a British television talent show series that was broadcast on ITV in late 2002. It was the second UK series of the international Popstars franchise. Unlike Popstars, which resulted in the formation of one winning group, Hear'Say (although the other finalists would go on to form Liberty X), Popstars: The Rivals created two rival groups, Girls Aloud and One True Voice, who competed against each other for the Christmas number one spot on the UK Singles Chart. Girls Aloud were runners up but would go on to achieve twenty consecutive top ten hits, four number ones and six top ten albums, two of which reached number one and from that, former member Cheryl Cole would achieve five number-ones and two number one albums.
Popstars The Rivals aired on ITV 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, boy band One True Voice, and girl group 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 was 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.
== Judges and presenters ==
=== Judges ===
On the judging panel, 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, although he initially expressed an interest in appearing. Chapman also went to 19, where she managed the careers of Pop Idol winner and runner-up Will Young and Gareth Gates. Adam turned down the opportunity to return as he was too busy working as a music executive at RCA Records.The judges for Popstars: The Rivals were announced as record producer and songwriter Pete Waterman, who worked with Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley and Steps amongst others as part of 1980–90s production trio Stock Aitken Waterman, Geri Halliwell, who rose to fame as part of the Spice Girls and later had a career as a solo popstar; 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. Evans later decided not to appear, and after approaching Sharon Osbourne, 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.
=== Presenters ===
The series was presented by Davina McCall, who had hosted the Popstars finale in 2001, and also hosted Big Brother, God's Gift, Streetmate and Don't Try This at Home as well as hosting the Brit Awards in 2000 and 2003. Former Another Level singer Dane Bowers and former Popstars and Pop Idol contestant Hayley Evetts presented Popstars: The Rivals Extra on ITV2.
== Production ==
Popstars The Rivals drew on the success of the first series of Popstars, which aired during the winter months of 2000 and 2001, and Pop Idol, which aired in the winter months of 2001–2002. Popstars resulted in the formation of one winning pop group, Hear’Say, who was selected solely by the judges, 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. 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", 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 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.
== Selection process ==
=== Applications and auditions ===
Initial auditions began on 9 August 2002 at the Wembley Conference Centre in London. 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, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester. 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. Just two of the hopefuls advanced from the London open auditions.The open auditions were broadcast across 3 episodes. Around 100 contestants made it through to the next round of the competition.
=== Bootcamp ===
The 102 remaining contestants had to travel to London for the bootcamp stage, where they were met by Davina McCall. With only 50 places available in the next round, the judges had tough decisions to make. The contestants were put through various workshops to test both their singing and dancing abilities. All contestants were able to choose a song to perform, while choreographers judged them on their dancing.
After two days of the workshop, 52 contestants failed to progress and left the competition. 13-year-old Stephanie McMichael was eliminated after producers discovered she had lied about her age and was below the age limit.
The final 50 were next reduced to 30 through another series of workshops. Pete Waterman mentored the boys, Louis Walsh oversaw the girls and Geri Halliwell acted as an intermediary between the two groups. After much deliberation, the judges called contestants to see them individually and deliver their verdicts.
=== Judges visits ===
The last two episodes before the live shows saw the final 30 being reduced to a final 20, with five boys and five girls failing to make the cut. The three judges were assigned contestants to visit separately in their respective homes and deliver the good or bad news of whether they had reached the live finals. The remaining contestants would move into a house together for the live stages of the competition.
The ten eliminated acts were:
Boys – Justin Webb, Sean Haven, Owen Doyle, Jacob Thompson, Jeremy Medcalf
Girls – Kimberley Walsh, Pollyanna Woodward, Nicola Roberts, Annika Gavitas, Charlie Houston
== Finalists ==
Ten male and ten female finalists were chosen to perform in the live shows. There was some controversy as one of the original finalists, Hazel Kaneswaran, 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.Kimberley Walsh, one of the girls who did not make the final 10, took Kaneswaren's place for the live shows. A special half-hour episode was broadcast on 14 October 2002 to show these changes, with Geri Halliwell informing Hazel of her elimination and Louis Walsh inviting Kimberley back onto the show.
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.
* as of week 1 (boys) and week 2 (girls)
== Live shows ==
=== Results summary ===
=== Live show details ===
The live shows took on a format where the girls and boys performed on alternate weeks. After the performances had ended the public voted via telephone or the red button to save their favourite act. The live shows were broadcast in two parts, with the performances in the first episode and the results in the second. In the initial episodes, the three contestants with the lowest number of votes made up a bottom three. One was immediately told they were safe and the other two had a nervous wait before one was saved and the other left the competition. 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. 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.
==== Week 1 (12 October 2002) ====
Category performing: Boys
Bottom three: Jamie Shaw, Chris Park and Andrew Kinlochan 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.
==== Week 2 (19 October 2002) ====
Category performing: Girls
Bottom three: Emma Beard, Kimberley Walsh and Lynsey Brown received the lowest number of votes and ended up in the bottom three. Kimberley was told that she was safe, leaving Lynsey and Emma in the bottom two. Lynsey was eliminated.
==== Week 3 (26 October 2002) ====
Category performing: Boys
Two of the male contestants were due to be eliminated via the public vote in this show. However, during the results show, Peter Smith announced that he was 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.
Bottom two: Chris Park and Nikk Mager received the lowest number of votes and ended up in the bottom two. Nikk was eliminated.
==== Week 4 (2 November 2002) ====
Category performing: Girls
Bottom four: The girls were split into two groups and were told that one girl would be eliminated from each group. From group one, Cheryl Tweedy and Emma Beard received the lowest number of votes and ended up in the bottom two. Emma was eliminated. From group two, Chloe Staines and Kimberley Walsh received the lowest number of votes and ended up in the bottom two. Chloe was eliminated.
==== Week 5 (9 November 2002) ====
Category performing: Boys
Bottom three: Anton Gordon, Matt Johnson and Mikey Green received the lowest number of votes and ended up in the bottom three. Anton was told that he was safe, leaving Matt and Mikey in the bottom two. Mikey was eliminated.
==== Week 6 (16 November 2002) ====
Category performing: Girls
Bottom four: Aimee Kearsley, Cheryl Tweedy, Kimberley Walsh and Sarah Harding received the lowest number of votes and ended up in the bottom four. Sarah and Kimberley were told that they were safe, leaving Aimee and Cheryl in the bottom two. Aimee was eliminated.
==== Week 7 - Boys final (23 November 2002) ====
Results: Keith Semple was announced as the first member of the band, followed by Matt Johnson, Daniel Pearce and Anton Gordon, leaving Chris Park and Jamie Shaw as the bottom two. Davina revealed that Jamie was the final member of the band, and Chris was eliminated.
==== Week 8 - Girls final (30 November 2002) ====
Results: Cheryl Tweedy was announced as the first member of the band, followed by Nicola Roberts, Nadine Coyle and Kimberley Walsh, leaving Javine Hylton and Sarah Harding as the bottom two. Davina revealed that Sarah was the final member of the band, and Javine was eliminated.
== Winners singles ==
=== Battle for Christmas number-one ===
A month 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 Pepsi 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. "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.
== Post Popstars: The Rivals ==
=== Winners ===
==== Girls Aloud ====
After the success of their first single "Sound of the Underground", Girls Aloud spent five months recording the follow-up single and their debut album. Sound of the Underground was released in May 2003, reaching number two on the UK Albums Chart. Over the next five years, Girls Aloud released four additional studio albums and a greatest hits collection – What Will the Neighbours Say? (2004), Chemistry (2005), The Sound of Girls Aloud: The Greatest Hits (2006), Tangled Up (2007), and Out of Control (2008). All of their albums have been certified platinum, while The Sound of Girls Aloud has sold over a million copies. Their albums have produced 20 consecutive UK top ten singles, including four number ones. Girls Aloud have been nominated for four BRIT Awards, winning Best Single in 2009 for "The Promise".
In 2009, Girls Aloud took a hiatus to explore solo endeavours. Cheryl Tweedy became Cheryl and proceeded to release four studio albums – 3 Words (2009), Messy Little Raindrops (2010), A Million Lights (2012) and Only Human (2014), which reached number-one, number-one, number-two, and number-seven, respectively. Collectively, the albums included ten singles, five of which – "Fight for This Love", "Promise This", "Call My Name", "Crazy Stupid Love" and "I Don't Care" – reached the top position on the UK Singles Chart. Cheryl became the first British female solo artist to have five number-one singles in the UK, and held the record for the British female solo artist with the most UK number-one singles until 2018.
Nadine Coyle and Nicola Roberts also released solo material. Coyle released her debut album Insatiable through a partnership with Tesco in November 2010, while Roberts released Cinderella's Eyes in 2011. Both albums failed to make a major impact on the charts. Consequently, Roberts now writes for friend and former bandmate, Cheryl. Roberts also created Dainty Doll, a make-up range aimed at fair-skinned individuals like herself. She has become vocal in her support of laws preventing minors from using sunbeds, in addition to highlighting the dangers of tanning in a BBC Three documentary Nicola Roberts: The Truth About Tanning. In 2010, she filmed a guest appearance on Britain's Next Top Model. She continued her television work by appearing as a judge on the Rihanna-produced series Styled to Rock in 2012.
Sarah Harding and Kimberley Walsh both turned their attention to acting and modeling during the hiatus. Following an appearance in the BBC television film Freefall, Harding had a starring role in the film St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold. Harding recorded three solo songs for the soundtrack. Harding also modeled for Ultimo lingerie and presented Sky Living reality TV show 'Dating in the Dark' for a time. In 2011, Harding went to rehab for alcohol and prescription drug abuse. Meanwhile, Walsh co-hosted Viva's Suck My Pop and presented coverage of the 63rd British Academy Film Awards for MTV. Musically, Walsh has featured on Aggro Santos's "Like U Like". In 2012 Walsh made her West End theatre debut, playing Princess Fiona in the London production of Shrek the Musical. Walsh has also modeled for
the fashion chain New Look, Schwarzkopf hair products, and Puma AG. In 2012, Walsh took part in series ten of Strictly Come Dancing.
In 2012, after a three-year hiatus, Girls Aloud reunited to celebrate their tenth anniversary as a band. They released the single "Something New", which donated proceeds to Children in Need, and the greatest hits anthology Ten. In 2013, the group embarked on Ten - The Hits Tour 2013. This was the band's final tour before they permanently went their separate ways.
==== One True Voice ====
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, 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, they inevitably broke up in August 2003. Pearce later went on to audition for the 2009 series of The X Factor, reaching the judges' houses stage before being eliminated. Keith Semple moved to the United States and became the lead singer of Chicago-based rock band 7th Heaven. He auditioned for the ninth season of American Idol, but lost his "golden ticket" place due to his legal status and residency considerations. Years later, Semple auditioned for the ninth season of The Voice, and landed a spot on Adam Levine's team, making it to the live shows.
=== Other contestants ===
A number of the contestants who failed to make it into One True Voice or Girls Aloud have managed to achieve some level of success outside of the show. 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, the label of Popstars rejects Liberty X. Four of the five girls who failed to qualify for Girls Aloud created CLEA (the name comes from each girl's initials). Javine Hylton decided to pursue a career as a solo artist, with a debut single Real Things reaching the top 10 in the United Kingdom. She was also chosen to represent the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest 2005, where she performed a song called "Touch My Fire".Two girls from Romania who did not make it past the auditions, identical twins Monica and Gabriela Irimia, 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 went on to release several more singles, including "Take Your Shoes Off" and "Hooray Hooray It's a Cheeky Holiday".
When CLEA disbanded, members Aimee Kearsley and Emma Beard formed a group named LoveShy and attempted to be the British entry for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest but were knocked out by another girl group, The Revelations. Former Phixx member Nikk Mager auditioned for The X Factor in 2008, in front of Cheryl from Girls Aloud. He failed to advance through the audition stages. 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 9 in 2008. She was the first to be evicted, and later released a single called "Camera Shy", and went on to audition for the ninth series of The X Factor in 2012 as part the duo "Poisonous Twin".
== Reception ==
=== Ratings ===
=== Controversy and criticism ===
As well as contestants being forced out for being over and under the age limit, ITV was met with controversy amid claims that the voting had been rigged in the girls final. London radio station Capital FM received complaints from viewers during their news bulletin, but Red Fig, the company who handled the voting, denied the viewers claims. A spokesman for the show also said they were "satisfied" with the procedure.
== Sponsorship ==
McDonald's sponsored the show in a £4 million deal which covered the programmes on ITV 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".
== See also ==
The X Factor (UK)
Popstars (UK) discography
== Notes ==
A Peter Smith left the competition in week 4 after admitting that he lied about his age. As a result, there was no bottom 3.
== References ==
== External links ==
Popstars: The Rivals on IMDb
Popstars: The Rivals news archive