Auditions start for Big Bro-style Popstars show

Auditions for the latest series of Popstars begin tomorrow in Britain with hundreds of hopefuls vying to become the next chart sensation.

Auditions for the latest series of Popstars begin tomorrow in Britain with hundreds of hopefuls vying to become the next chart sensation.

Louis Walsh will join Geri Halliwell and pop producer Pete Waterman on the judging panel.

Walsh has denied reports that he has been brought in as the show's Mister Nasty, and says he will be honest but fair with the contestants.

They are taking place at a secret London location and, unlike last year, are strictly by invitation only.

Thousands turned up at mass auditions for the first series and many had to be turned away because there was not enough time to see them all.

This time around wannabes have already sent in recordings of themselves singing and around 350 have been invited to today’s event.

They will perform in front of judges Geri Halliwell, and Westlife manager Louis Walsh.

Other auditions will be held later this month in Manchester and Glasgow.

The new series is called Popstars: The Rivals and will create not one but two groups - a girl band and a boy band - who will go head to head for the Christmas number one spot.

Like Popstars, which created Hear’say and also spawned chart-toppers Liberty X, the ITV show is expected to be a huge ratings hit.

It will be hosted by Davina McCall and her presence is not the only thing the show has in common with Big Brother.

Ten boys and 10 girls, shortlisted by the judges, will live in two Big Brother-style houses under the watchful eye of the TV cameras.

As in the Channel 4 reality show, viewers will then take part in a phone vote to evict one boy and one girl.

Halliwell has promised to be a sympathetic judge and nothing like ‘Nasty’ Nigel Lythgoe, who reduced people to tears in the first series.

"I’m just going to be myself. I think I’ll be honest but with compassion," the former Spice Girl said.

Asked if she had any advice for aspiring stars on how to handle the auditions, she joked: "Imagine the judges naked, that’ll take the nerves away. It’s what I always do."

The bands will release their singles on the same day and compete for the top of the Christmas charts.

Waterman and Walsh will manage them on their route to stardom while Halliwell will have a roving role giving both groups the benefit of her expertise.

She has reportedly been paid £500,000 (€797,000) to take part in the show.

The producers have promised a number of surprises along the way and a mystery guest has been lined up to join the programme.

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