Disappointed teenage singer Zoe Birkett today denied rumours that she was having a romance with fellow Pop Idol contestant Gareth Gates following her exit from the smash hit ITV1 show.
The 16-year-old A-level student from Darlington, Co Durham in England, said talk of a romance between the pair was ‘‘just rumour’’ after she was shown a picture of Gareth crying as she was voted out of the show on Saturday night.
She said: ‘‘We are very, very good friends and we have been together in this competition since the beginning. That is it, we are just good friends.’’
Zoe, who had her dreams dashed after a record 3.6 million callers voted in the talent contest, said she hoped to build a career in the music industry following her experience.
‘‘I am really looking forward to the future and I am looking forward hopefully to a career in the music industry. I am happy,’’ she said.
Asked who she believed would win the contest in the end, she said she believed the remaining participants - Gareth, 17, from Bradford, William Young, 23, an Exeter University graduate now living in London, and Darius Danesh, 21, who is studying English at Edinburgh University, would all do a ‘‘really good job’’ as Pop Idol.
‘‘I just wish them all the best,’’ she said.
Zoe’s remarks came after she said yesterday that that she would like Gareth to win the competition and should he triumph in two weeks’ time, she did not think his stammer would prove a problem in his bid for stardom.
‘‘When he does become a star, I think he’ll be fine. He’ll be able to put time aside to practise and rehearse,’’ she said.
Zoe insisted she had learned a lot from the experience, and valued the judges’ criticisms of her performance.
‘‘It’s the first big thing I’ve done. It’s big advice for me, and next time I’ll know what to do.
‘‘Although it’s criticism, it’s constructive. This time last year I never would have expected to be doing this,’’ she said.
She denied rumours that she might audition for a place in pop group Hear’Say following singer Kym Marsh’s departure.
The nation will discover the ultimate winner of Pop Idol on February 9.