Celebrity Fame Academy was beginning today with one of the stars set to make an early exit.
Nine famous names will showcase their talents – or lack of them – by singing live on tonight’s BBC1 show in aid of Comic Relief.
The public will vote for their favourites and the two least popular will have their fate decided by the other celebrities, who will choose one to stay and one to go.
The stars involved are presenter Ulrika Jonsson, Cold Feet star John Thomson, comics Ruby Wax and Jo Brand, Casualty actors Will Mellor and Kwame Kwei-Armah, This Morning presenter Paul Ross, The Saturday Show’s Fearne Cotton and Smack The Pony star Doon Mackichan.
Mackichan was drafted in to replace ex-footballer and French heart-throb David Ginola, who dropped out at the last minute.
All the celebrities said their biggest fear about the week-long show was failing at the first hurdle and not making it into the Academy.
They have been rehearsing in earnest since yesterday morning and have each chosen a song which they hope will best show off their vocal abilities.
Wax was convinced that she would be the one booted out on the first night.
She said: “I don’t think I’ll be seeing the sunrise. I’ve had one singing lesson so far and dogs followed me for half-an-hour after I left.”
Mellor is the bookies’ favourite with Ladbrokes giving him odds of 5/4 to emerge as winner.
The star of Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps has more experience than many of the others – he enjoyed a short-lived pop career in the 90s and also starred in the musical Oh! What A Night.
Cotton is second favourite at 7/2 followed by Jonsson at 5/1, with Brand the 20/1 outsider.
The Fame Academy team, led by headteacher Richard Park, will put the students through a gruelling regime of vocal coaching and dance workouts.
Lights-out is at 11pm every day, mobile phones are banned and alcohol will be strictly rationed.
The show, hosted by Cat Deeley and Patrick Kielty, goes out every night for a week on BBC1.
Each night the three worst-performing students will be put “on probation” and one will be evicted.
The final two will battle it out in a special show next Friday as part of Red Nose Night.
Famous faces have been lined up to visit the Academy in Highgate, north London, to help the students along.
Andrew Lloyd Webber will help hone their song and dance skills, boxer Audley Harrison and England rugby star Laurence Dallaglio will test their fitness levels, and hypnotist Paul McKenna will help them overcome any stage fright.
Celebrity Fame Academy will be shown on BBC1 and BBC3. Money from each vote will be donated to Comic Relief.
:: Ladbroke’s odds: Will Mellor 5/4; Fearne Cotton 7/2; Ulrika Jonsson 5/1; Doon Mackichan 6/1; John Thomson 10/1; Kwame Kwei-Armah 12/1; Ruby Wax 14/1; Paul Ross 16/1; Jo Brand 20/1.