This is probably my imagination but didn’t ITV want to do a third Popstars series?
Yes, it was going to be Popstars: Boy Meets Girl to create a duo, presumably in the hope they'd snog on camera and have blazing rows and so on. But that never happened. At the time, it felt like they'd just alternate between Popstars, Pop Idol and X Factor, but clearly they wanted Cowell on all the time and he'd only do X Factor, so that ended the other two. A bit of a shame, cos I liked Pop Idol and X Factor, with its contrived format, seemed a real step down.
Course, Popstars: The Rivals was nothing like the original Popstars, which was all pre-recorded on location, The Rivals just followed the Pop Idol template to the letter, the judges even sat on the same place on the set.
I've said this before but one thing I really liked about Popstars and Pop Idol was that they seemed really honest and were well up for discussing the mechanics of the show, so on the original Popstars nobody turned up to the auditions in Belfast and they admitted as such. And then on Pop Idol I there was all that discussion about Rik Waller being ill and potentially getting a bye, and they actually discussed this on air and invited the audience to ask the judges questions, so it felt like a show that was on the viewer's side and would happily reveal all this stuff to us. A real shame when X Factor started hyping everything up and boasting about ratings.