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Where are the first ever Pop Idol contestants now? From Corrie to exam supervisor

Pop Idol was a true phenomenon when it came onto our screens 20 years ago – it was the first show of its kind and created the foundations for many talent shows since.

The ITV talent show arguably started the craze we see now where reality TV and contests fill up the television schedules.

Pop Idol launched in 2001 when Simon Cowell, Nicki Chapman, Neil Fox and Pete Waterman judged a bunch of wannabe pop star-types, YorkshireLive reports.

The initial series came to a climax with Will Young fighting off fierce competition from Gareth Gates, Zoe Birkett and Darius Campbell to be crowned winner.

But what have the Pop Idol series one contestants been up to over the past 20 years and where are they now?

Take a scroll below and see what your favourite is up to these days.

The winners

During the final of series one, the nation was gripped as they watched spiky-haired boyband heart-throb Gareth Gates and posh-boy Will Young fight it out for the top spot.

It is fair to say, most people’s money was on Bradford born singer Gareth Gates, so it was a huge shock when Will Young’s name was announced.

Will Young



Will Young was the first ever winner of Pop Idol
Will Young was the first ever winner of Pop Idol

After beating Gareth Gates in the final and being crowned winner of Pop Idol, Will Young went on to release a string of huge singles including Light My Fire and Leave Right Now.

He later released a greatest hits album in 2009 and nearly had a stint as a judge on The Voice UK before missing out to The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue

In 2016 he joined Strictly Come Dancing , leaving the show three weeks later due to “personal reasons”.

Will released his book To Be A Gay Man in September 2020 and is still making music.

Gareth Gates



Singer-songwriter Gareth Gates finished second in the first series
Singer-songwriter Gareth Gates finished second in the first series

The singer-songwriter rocketed to fame, after finishing just behind Will Young in the first series of Pop Idol.

Gareth became known for having a stutter, and has since talked about his speech impediment publicly.

Some of his top hits include Say It Ain’t So and Unchained Melody.

The reality TV contestant has also performed in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Adelphi Theatre. He played the title role.

He hasn’t released a single since 2007, but he did compete in Dancing on Ice: All Stars in 2014 and has performed in a variety of musicals, such as Les Miserables and Boogie Nights.

The star was engaged to Coronation Street actress Faye Brooks but the pair sadly split after seven years together.

Gates continues to post music to his Instagram account as well as his fitness journey.

Darius Campbell



Darius Campbell went onto win ITV's Operastar
Darius Campbell went onto win ITV’s Operastar

Known as Darius Danesh when he appeared in series one, he had previously auditioned for Popstars with his cover of Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time, and returned to Pop Idol the following year.

He went on to release five top ten singles and won ITV show Popstar to Operastar in 2010.

Darius married actress Natasha Henstridge in 2011 but filed for divorce just two years later.

Like Gareth, Darius also turned to the West End, playing the lead role of Warden in the show From Here to Eternity the Musical in 2013 and later playing Nick Arnstein in Funny Girl at the Savoy in 2015.

Zoe Birkett



Zoe Birkett has had a successful career West End career
Zoe Birkett has had a successful career West End career

Finishing fourth on the show, Zoe released a top twenty single Treat Me Like a Lady, which reached number 12 before being dropped by Pop Idol creator Simon Fuller’s label.

In 2014 she entered Big Brother, not the celebrity version and came ninth.

Like other Pop Idol contestants, Zoe had a successful West End career in shows such as West End Rocks, Thriller – Live and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

In 2015, Birkett played understudy to Alexandra Burke’s Rachel Marron character in the musical adaption of the Hollywood movie, “The Bodyguard”, which opened on Broadway before showing in London’s West End and Edinburgh.

Hayley Evetts



Hayley Evetts (pictured here in 2006) had been set to represent at Eurovision before getting an injury
Hayley Evetts (pictured here in 2006) had been set to represent at Eurovision before getting an injury

Hayley finished fifth on Pop Idol and shortly after landed a small role on Coronation Street.

She also starred as Sandy in Grease alongside Robbie Williams’ best mate Jonathan Wilkes.

She auditioned for The X Factor in 2012 but didn’t make it past boot camp and in 2016 she was one of the candidates set to represent Romania at Eurovision before pulling out due to a severe knee injury.

Rosie Ribbons

Rosie signed a five-album deal after coming sixth, releasing top twenty singles Blink and A Little Bit.

After her record label went bust she was released from her contract, but Rosie did enter Australian Idol in 2007 but sadly didn’t make it through to the final 12.

In 2012 Ribbons was the featured vocalist on the title track of the Alonestar EP “Warrior”, a release which also featured English singer-songwriter and Brit Award winner Ed Sheeran, who accompanies Ribbons on the track “All Falls Down” from the same EP.

Laura Doherty (was Anderson)

2001 Pop Idol contestant Laura now has a music degree after graduating from the University of Ulster in 2006. She also teaches hip-hop dancing in schools.

Aaron Bayley

Aaron now plays weddings and functions as part of the Aaron Bayley Band. He also joined fellow popstar-types Andy Scott-Lee, Stacey McClean, Rikki Loney and Kavana in supergroup G*Mania, who went on tour performing Glee songs.

Jessica Garlick



Jessica Garlick went on to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest with Come Back where she managed to come third
Jessica Garlick went on to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest with Come Back where she managed to come third

Although Jessica only finished ninth, she went on to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest with Come Back where she managed to come third, she is the highest placed British entrant at the Eurovision Song Contest in the 21st century so far.

In 2006, Garlick appeared as the hidden musician in the “Identity Parade” round on the BBC ‘s Never Mind the Buzzcocks game show.

She is now married to Owen Satterley, a personal trainer whom she has dated from her teenage years and they have two children together.

Rik Waller

Rik was replaced by Darius when he was forced to leave the live shows due to severe laryngitis.

He released a top 10 single, a cover of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You and later appeared on Celebrity Fit Club in 2002.

In March 2014, he was an exam invigilator.

Korben Niblett

Korben, also known as Chris Niblett, was the first contestant to be eliminated from Pop Idol. According to his LinkedIn profile, Korben’s been a Regional Education Manager at Estee Lauder Travel since late 2014.

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