ITV is hoping to replicate the success of Channel 4’s Big Brother with its own reality-TV show based around the launch of a pop group.
The network has teamed up with Polydor to create and launch a group whose progress will be charted in a 10-part series called Popstars next year.
ITV has earmarked the project as a key ratings banker for 2001 and is hoping that the real-life success of the band will help build the show’s audience figures. Polydor plans to release an album and a single by the group.
The concept of Popstars comes from Australia’s Channel 7, where the show was a ratings winner. The format has since been sold to the US and Germany. LWT is producing the UK version of the show.
ITV is currently holding auditions for band members around the country and has signed up Billie Piper’s public relations manager, Nikki Chapman, to manage the group.
John Hardie, marketing director at ITV, said he expected Popstars to be one of the network’s hits of next year.
“It was the number-one show in Australia and the group went on to have a number-one single. If the same happens here, ITV will not benefit as we will not own the rights,” he said.
At a presentation on Monday of ITV’s plans for 2001 to media buyers, Hardie said ITV was ready to take the fight to the BBC following its decision to make a dash for the 10.00 pm news slot.
“We are taking the BBC schedule very seriously, I think it is going to find things very tough for the next three months as the result of changing the time of its main news bulletin,” he said. “We will end the year with a very strong performance; the last three weeks we have been taking a consistent 38.8% audience share and hope this will continue until Christmas.”