SA Idols: 24 Facts

2011-06-03 07:57
1. Idols was born in March 2002.

2. The South African show was the second international spin-off (after Poland) of the original Pop Idol series.

3. However, due to the shorter running time than the Polish version, Heinz Winckler became the second Idol winner worldwide in June 2002. (Kelly Clarkson won American Idol in September 2002.)

4. Over the last nine years the show has seen seven judges come and go – or stay – on the show.

5. Penny Lebyane and Marcus Brewster left after season one, making space for Mara Louw-Thomson and Gareth Cliff next to Randall Abrahams and Dave Thompson at the judges' table.

6. Dave Thompson left the competition straight after season five and his spot was filled by weekly celebrity guest judges, much like the auditions for American Idol season 9 (currently airing on SABC2).

7. In January 2011 Mara Louw left the show after relations between her and M-Net broke down due to certain comments Louw made about the show.

8. Louw has been replaced by Metro FM DJ Unathi Msengana who will debut her judging skills when season seven kicks off on June 5.

9. Seven presenters have also come and gone over the last nine years.

10. The show's first host, Matthew Stewardson, left the show in the middle of season one and later checked into rehab. Matthew passed away in December 2010.

11. Candy Litchfield went on to present the remainder of season one with Sami Sabiti.

12. Colin Moss and Letoya Makhene (we're not sure who she is either) took over in season two, but Colin went solo from 2004 until 2007.

13. In 2009 SABC3 continuity presenter Liezel van der Westhuizen took over the reins as presenter. In 2010 she was joined by former Survivor SA contestant ProVerb, who is now the sole presenter since she ditched the show to rejoin SABC3 for their breakfast slot, Expresso.

14. Seven judges, seven presenters, and surprisingly – seven winners in six seasons.  In 2009 Sasha-Lee Davids was crowned the winner at the live finale. A few days and a vote recount later it was revealed that the other finalist, Jason Hartman, in fact received 200 000 more votes than she did. The mix-up was due to problems with the voting line. They were both declared winners and received the same prizes.

15. This wasn't the first voting debacle on the show though. In season one a miscount of votes resulted in 11 finalists instead of 10. Melanie Lowe was the 11th finalist. She went on to place third in the competition.

16. The youngest winner of Idols is season four's Jody Williams who was only 17 at the time.

17. The oldest winner of Idols is season six's 30-year-old Elvis Blue. The cut-off age for entrants is 30.

18. You don't have to win Idols to get your big break though. Graeme Watkins, ZamaJobe and NKD are just a few of the many finalists who have gone on to forge successful music careers.

19. In 2006 the show had a spin-off on sister channel KykNet called Afrikaans Idols. The show only lasted for one season. Dewald Louw was the eventual winner.

20.  In season five contestants were allowed to play their instruments during their auditions.

21. SA Idols contestants are die-hards! Jamie-Lee Sexton, a finalist in season six, was also a finalist in season three, although then she entered under the name Jamie-Lee Blokdyk. That makes her the first Idols contestant worldwide to reach the final round of two separate seasons. You go, girl!

22. In 2010 Idols employed the skills of Nevermachine, headed up by Gavin Wratten, to handle the production of the show. 

23. For the season seven auditions Idols made its first trips to Soweto and Polokwane in search of SA's next big singing star.

24. Idols season seven starts on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Sunday June 5 at 17:30.


The seventh season of Idols returns to South Africans screens in June. We look at how this reality franchise has made headlines over the years.
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