It's 15 Years Since Pop Idol's TV Debut - Where Are The Contestants Now?

Believe it or not, there was a time before 'The X Factor'.

06/10/2016 00:01 | Updated 06 October 2016

Today (6 October) marks a milestone in reality TV history, as it is 15 years since ‘Pop Idol’ hit our screens for the first time.

It was the show that first brought little-known record label boss Simon Cowell to public attention, as he sat alongside Neil Fox, Nicki Chapman and Pete Waterman on the judging panel.

But having aired between the first-of-its-kind ‘Popstars’ and the TV-revolutionising ‘X Factor’, ‘Pop Idol’ is often overlooked in the grand timeline of TV talent shows, despite spawning the hugely successful and long-running ‘American Idol’.

So whatever happened to its contestants? Have any of them gone on to mega-stardom? Are any of them a big deal overseas? Do any of them, you know, actually still sing?

Well, you need wonder no more, as we’ve been been digging to find out what they’ve been up to in the years since the show gave way to the TV heavyweight that is ‘The X Factor’...

  • Gareth Gates (Runner-Up, Series 1)
    Ian West/PA Archive
    Despite not scooping the win the public had assumed he would, Gareth went on to have a handful of number one singles off the back of 'Pop Idol' - including an emotional tear-jerker featuring 'The Kumars at No. 42' - though he later vanished off the scene. Following an appearance on 'Dancing On Ice', Gareth later became one of the members of 'Big Reunion' supergroup 5th Story alongside Kavana and Dane Bowers. He's since launched a successful stage career, starring in touring productions of 'Footloose' and 'Boogie Nights'.
  • Will Young (Winner, Series 1)
    Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images
    One of the UK's rare 'talent show' success stories, Will has topped the charts a number of times since his 'Pop Idol' win - despite everyone thinking at the time it was shy teenager Gareth Gates who would scoop the crown. Most recently, he received critical acclaim for his album '85% Proof', which hit the number one spot in 2015. He is currently competing on 'Strictly Come Dancing', partnering Karen Clifton.
  • Sam and Mark (2nd and 3rd Place, Series 2)
    Ian Gavan via Getty Images
    Clearly sensing that two heads are better than one, Sam and Mark decided to team up after 'Pop Idol' and release a cover of the Beatles staple 'With A Little Help From My Friends'. When that proved less than fruitful, they turned to children's TV presenting, hosting Saturday morning show 'TMi' alongside Caroline Flack. They recently announced plans to tour Butlins holiday camps in 2017.
  • Andy Scott-Lee (7th Place, Series 2)
    Chris Jackson via Getty Images
    Lisa Scott-Lee's brother - occasionally referred to as 'Andy Scott-Lee' - put himself forward as a potential candidate to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest with a song penned by Lee Ryan, the same year a heavily pregnant Katie Price wore her infamous pink jumpsuit. They were both beaten by Javine Hylton. According to his Wikipedia page he was "recently" asked to perform at the Miss England finals. So that's nice. He married Michelle Heaton in 2006, but they split two years later. His current wife Lydia appeared on 'Big Brother' in 2013.
  • Zoe Birkett (4th Place, Series 1)
    Channel 5
    Despite releasing 10/10 pop gem 'Treat Me Like A Lady' after finishing in fourth place, her pop career never took off. She appeared in the musical 'Thriller Live', before heading into the 'Big Brother' house in 2014 (no, not the 'Celebrity' version), but was evicted on day 58.
  • Michelle McManus (Winner, Series 2)
    Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images
    Since winning 'Pop Idol', Michelle has turned her hands to presenting and also writes a column for the Glasgow Evening Times. She's also performed in theatre as part of 'The Vagina Monologues', and still performs gigs around the country as a singer.
  • Darius Campbell (3rd Place, Series 1)
    Ben A. Pruchnie via Getty Images
    After topping the charts with his debut release 'Colourblind', Darius went on to have a successful career in the West End. He later changed musical direction after winning the first series of 'Popstar To Operastar' - which is all well and good, but every time we look at him all we can think about is his toe-curling rendition of '...Baby One More Time' on the first series of 'Popstars'. He's currently appearing in the West End as Nick Arnstein in 'Funny Girl' opposite Sheridan Smith, having recently ended a relationship with model Daisy Lowe.
  • Rosie Ribbons (5th place, series 1)
    After relocating to Australia, Rosie became a contestant on the Australian version of the show back in 2007. We'll always remember her for this pop banger, though...
  • Rik Waller (10th place, Series 1)
    Supplied by WENN
    After making a splash with his appearance on 'Pop Idol', Rik rode the wave of fame, releasing a questionable cover of Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You' and starring alongside Jade Goody and Ricardo from 'The Salon' (remember him?!) in 'Back To Reality'. He now works as an exam invigilator.
  • Simon Cowell (Judge, Series 1 & 2)
    Shirlaine Forrest via Getty Images
    After 'Pop Idol' ended he became a recluse and was neither seen nor heard from again.
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