Who won Pop Idol? Winners list with Will Young and is singing competition making a comeback?

Will Young won Pop Idol in 2002 beating rival singer Gareth Gates

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Pop Idol winner Will Young has said that he is proud for standing up to “bully” judge Simon Cowell.

Young, who won the first season of the ITV music competition, reflected on Cowell’s treatment of people and how the young singer had challenged this.

Cowell, who is known for his direct and sometimes hurtful comments, was a judge on the reality show that aired between 2001 -2003.

Rumours broke in March 2022 that the show might be returning to ITV for its 20th anniversary.

Here’s everything you need to know about who won Pop Idol and whether the show could be making a comeback.

What was Pop Idol?

Pop Idol was a British singing competition that ran on ITV from 2001 - 2003.

Will Young won Pop Idol beating Gareth Gates (Pic: Getty Images)Will Young won Pop Idol beating Gareth Gates (Pic: Getty Images)
Will Young won Pop Idol beating Gareth Gates (Pic: Getty Images)

The show was the first of its kind, showing audiences the audition process and letting them vote for the overall winner.

It was hosted by Cowell, music producer Pete Waterman, music promoter and manager Nikki Chapman and TV personality Neil Fox.

Cowell was known for being especially critical of singers, often laughing out loud or making hurtful comments.

This was the era of mean judges, with other popular shows including Anne Robinson’s The Weakest Link.

Pop Idols launched the careers of Young,Gareth Gates and Michelle McManus overnight.

The final between Young and Gates remains to this day the most successful audience vote-in, on British TV.

The show was never officially cancelled, but put on an indefinite hiatus when The X Factor came to ITV in 2004.

Who won Pop Idol?

Pop Idol only ran for two seasons, but the winner’s instantly became household names overnight.

The most successful winner of Pop Idol is Young, who has still kept in the public eye, released music and starred in west end productions and TV shows.

Here is the list of Pop Idol winners:

Will Young: Season 1

Will Young has went on to have a successful career after winning Pop Idol (Pic: Getty Images)Will Young has went on to have a successful career after winning Pop Idol (Pic: Getty Images)
Will Young has went on to have a successful career after winning Pop Idol (Pic: Getty Images)

Young beat Gates to claim the prize in what was the biggest audience vote ever recorded in British television.

He has since gone on to find international fame, releasing eight albums, appearing on the West End in Cabaret and taking part in Strictly Come Dancing.

Young recently got nominated for a Television Award for his recent honest documentary about his twin brother Rupert.

Michelle McManus: Season 2

McManus won the second season of Pop Idol, much to the displeasure of some of the show’s judges.

Comments made about the singer are particularly hard to listen to by 2022 standards.

Speaking about McManus’ weight Waterman said: "Michelle McManus is the only person I’ve ever seen put weight on during the competition, and it that shows her disrespect for the audience that’s watching."

The singer has gone on to have success with her music, and has guest starred as a judge on ITV’s Loose Women.

What has Will Young said about Simon Cowell?

Young reflected on standing up to bully judge Simon Cowell in an interview with Pink News.

The Leave Right Now singer explained:"From the first time I stood up to a bullying Simon Cowell as a judge, I feel it’s a responsibility if people who don’t have a voice can’t shine a light on certain things that I do so.

“It’s very fulfilling and I get a lot of pleasure from it."

He added: "We all have times when we need to stand up for ourselves. I had a politics degree, I used to go on protests, I was very much not keen on seeing people being abused in any form.

"And so really it wasn’t just for me when I spoke up, it was for all the other people that he had been horrible to.

"People who are bullies, they’re only as powerful as the power you give them, and he didn’t have any power over me so I didn’t give a s**t."

Is Pop Idol coming back?

Pop Idol is rumoured to be making a comeback, however nothing is concrete at this stage.

In March, it was confirmed that ITV were in talks to bring back the show, to commemorate its 20th anniversary, which implies that if it does return, it will be in 2024.

Speaking to Metro an anonymous source said that: “absolutely nothing is confirmed at this point.”

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