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Pop Idol, Fame Academy et al.

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SO
Soupnzi London London
Not how I recall it. I remember it being massively hyped as a cross between Big Brother & Pop Idol. If anything, its problem was that expectations were too high.

It was massively hyped but in a very very short space of time. Even IAC had been written about for weeks and weeks (as a celeb version of Survivor mostly) by the time it landed that same year.
JO
Jonwo
I think Richard Park was never comfortable being the headmaster on Fame Academy whereas Cowell embraced the 'nasty' persona on Idol and later The X Factor although I think he has mellowed in recent times.

Pop Idol also spurned many TV careers, Nicki Chapman went from being a judge to hosting various TV programmes on the BBC like Escape to the Country while Sam and Mark carved a successful career in presenting shows for CBBC.
SW
Steve Williams
Not how I recall it. I remember it being massively hyped as a cross between Big Brother & Pop Idol. If anything, its problem was that expectations were too high.


Yes, it was a proper juggernaut in the schedules, and everything had to get out of the way - there was a series of My Family running on Fridays which was booted mid-run to Thursdays. As mentioned, the format had run successfully in other countries and I think the Beeb thought it was a suitably BBC take on the format because it emphasised songwriting and musicianship as much as it did singing (the first series, anyway, the second series didn't). I think the countries it had been successful in were those which hadn't yet been colonised by Pop Idol, though - a bit like how So You Think You Can Dance was a big hit in America but by the time it arrived in the UK it looked a bit old hat.

When the second series of Fame Academy was on Saturday nights directly opposite Pop Idol, the Beeb span some ridiculous cock and bull story about how that was the only slot it could possibly go in, because it couldn't go on Fridays like the first series did because Friday was officially comedy night and it couldn't go any later on Saturdays because of Casualty. Despite the fact a) Friday was comedy night before they shoved the first series there, b) they were just showing repeats in that slot at that time and c) Casualty was on its summer break. Such an embarrassment for everyone concerned.

It always seemed bizarre how it came back for Comic Relief in both 2005 and 2007, long after the original series was dead and buried. For all its credibility and relevance in 2007 they may as well have done Comic Relief Does Celebrity Wrestling.

Jonwo posted:
I think Richard Park was never comfortable being the headmaster on Fame Academy whereas Cowell embraced the 'nasty' persona on Idol and later The X Factor although I think he has mellowed in recent times.

Pop Idol also spurned many TV careers, Nicki Chapman went from being a judge to hosting various TV programmes on the BBC like Escape to the Country while Sam and Mark carved a successful career in presenting shows for CBBC.


Nicki Chapman originally on Popstars, of course. When Pop Idol started, it was actually Sir Peter Waterman who was promoted as the big judge to watch, rather than Cowell.
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MA
madmusician Central (West) Midlands Today
One day I will write that big blog post remembering Fame Academy (and also upload the official winner's VHS to YouTube, which I digitised a few years ago) - I was 11 when the first series was on, and I got really, really into it. We were definitely a BBC (rather than ITV) family, so this was a musical talent show that I was allowed to watch and as a bit of a musical geek I really enjoyed the whole 'watching the lessons' schtick, alongside the whole format of 'students on probation'. I must have been one of the only people who religiously watched those Tuesday and Thursday evening shows, and funnily enough I didn't really watch the Friday show itself, just seeing the highlights and fall-out on the following week's highlight shows.

And it goes without saying that, whilst I didn't understand the TV reasons (as Steve sets out above) for the changes, I found the second series a huge disappointment with none of the appeal that the first one had for me.

I'll write that blog one day, mind, as I've loads to say on the matter!
RD
RDJ Recently warned Central (West) Midlands Today
Not wishing to digress off the thread as I’m conscious it’s an ITV thread but the Fame Academy discussion is happening here... I loved the pizazz of the first series and the huge set they had for the live shows which gave it a real stadium like feel.

I loved watching the red button feed which showed them on live night all getting into helicopters and setting off to Elstree. Of course by series two, they just had a small set within the academy itself which just screamed low budget.

It was a shame, the BBC could have had a hit on its hands if it out the same effort in series two as it did in series one.
Central News South January 9th 1989 - December 3rd 2006
DE88 and LondonViewer gave kudos
CA
Cando London London
RDJ posted:
Not wishing to digress off the thread as I’m conscious it’s an ITV thread but the Fame Academy discussion is happening here... I loved the pizazz of the first series and the huge set they had for the live shows which gave it a real stadium like feel.

I loved watching the red button feed which showed them on live night all getting into helicopters and setting off to Elstree.


The helicopters had full Fame Academy branding too. The production values were fantastic. Series 1 was as lavish as the X factor at its height
ME
mediaman2007
Was Fame Academy ever at Elstee? Seem to remember Shepperton?
CM
C.M.W. Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Yes, if the helicopters were taking the contestants to Elstree, they would have been in the wrong place. It was Shepperton.
LV
LondonViewer London London
Fame Academy S1 was a brilliant series. Huge fan. Despite the talk of it being a flop, it was quite big by the end & built momentum throughout. Only thing I didn’t really like was the set design at Shepperton.

Here’s a good YT for any fans of the original series.

https://youtu.be/JEWSjviI9UU
JL
JamesLaverty1925 Central (East) East Midlands Today
It's been touched on already, but do we know why they kept doing the Comic Relief version for so long? I'd guess it was contracted, but it seemed weird seeing it was unlikely to launch a revival
GO
gottago London London
It's been touched on already, but do we know why they kept doing the Comic Relief version for so long? I'd guess it was contracted, but it seemed weird seeing it was unlikely to launch a revival

I think it was just a case of the previous Comic Relief versions doing well so they brought it back. Safer to do that than have to launch a new format that could flop. But yes it certainly did feel odd by 2007.

Fame Academy happened in the era when for whatever reason (probably because of the interactivity before I had a computer) I was obsessed with anything they put on the red button and I think I watched hours more of the live streaming than the show itself. The set they used for series 2 was so awful. I can only assume the BBC massively cut the budget, wiping out a proper and separate studio. It managed to make the show feel like it was already on the way out, like a set for a late night C4 music show or something rather than a big scale talent contest.

Worth remembering that the Fame Academy Bursary (how very early 2000s BBC) lasted until 2016, renamed the Performing Arts Fund, scooping up the phone revenues of Strictly, The Voice etc, and closed because online votes had wiped out much of their income. Adele benefitted from the fund according to the archived website.
AB
AcerBen Granada North West Today
Actually I suspect the reason they didn't bother with the Shepperton studio for Series 2 was because the Comic Relief series had done very well in the ratings, so they probably figured they should make it as much like that as possible.

It was a smaller stage but in some ways it had a better atmosphere.

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