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Where are they now? Former Reality TV stars tell of life out of the spotlight

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Published Date: 08 March 2010
As Susan Boyle juggles multi-million sales and life in the spotlight thanks to Britain's Got Talent, we ask what happened to Scotland's other reality show alumni when the lights went out and the telephone voting stopped?
Michelle McManus
Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus
Winner, Pop Idol, 2003

Michelle McManus was back in the news last month when Lily Allen quipped that her body dysmorphia made her think she looked liked her, but McManus doesn't care. She's couldn't be happier.

"No, I don't have Leona Lewis' career, I didn't go to America, I didn't break the charts over there, but I've got everything I could ever want. I have a thing with the Radio 2 Big Band, I'm on TV every night with The Hour, I have a beautiful flat in Shawlands, I'm financially stable, I have my own record label and I love my life."

When she signed up for Pop Idol the concept was still in its infancy. "It was a completely different animal then," she says. "At that time you were never promised to get to America, you were never going to get The Oprah Winfrey Show or all that money – it was a talent show, you won it on the night and anything after that was a bonus."

After winning the show, her single All This Time went straight to No 1, but even then she had the feeling that all was not rosy in the pop garden. "I came out of Pop Idol feeling that what goes up must come down. I could see the record execs thinking, 'Nice girl but how do you market a 23-stone woman?' It was a bit of a nightmare for everyone so I kind of knew what was coming but I just closed my eyes and got on with it."

Her album, The Meaning Of Love, was No 1 in Scotland for six weeks and No 3 in the UK but when her second single only reached No 13, she was dropped by her record company.

"When I did Pop Idol I must have been about 21 stone but my weight ballooned to 23 stone so I decided to take stock. I need to change my weight – as much as I loved the way I looked, I was never going to progress any further in this industry at that weight." She teamed up with Gillian McKeith in September 2004, making a special series of You Are What You Eat programmes. This led to a best-selling book, DVD and numerous offers of work. "The doors just opened up," says McManus, who worked in radio and toured the Far East with Little Voice.

Now comfortably off, she has her own record label. "I think there are some amazing acts in Scotland and I'd really like to sign an unknown and move that forward. I'm not saying I'm the Simon Cowell of Scotland, but I'd like to give someone an opportunity.

"Every year I get offered I'm A Celebrity and Celebrity Big Brother, but I never did Pop Idol because I wanted to be famous; I just wanted to be a singer. If the work dried up I think I'd have to accept that it was just a great story to tell the grandkids – Granny was on Pop Idol and she was No 1."

Darius Campbell

Darius Campbell
Darius Campbell

Formerly Darius danesh. Popstars, 2000; semi-finalist, Pop Idol, 2001; winner, popstar to opera star, 2010

He was roundly mocked for his rendition of Britney Spears' Hit Me Baby One More Time and for his observation that there was "a lot of love in the room". But who's laughing now? A platinum-selling singer-songwriter, West End actor and winner of ITV's recent Popstar to Opera Star, life is looking pretty good.

For the last four years he has divided his time between LA and the UK. And, although he recently split from his fiancée, Hollywood star Natasha Henstridge, he's looking to the future with a change of name. Because the man we once knew as Danesh wants to be known as Campbell.

"I've always been known as Darius Campbell legally – my passport and bank cards reflect that," he says, "but when I entered my first audition they just called me Darius. Then when I started doing interviews, the TV show introduced me as Darius Danesh and it kind of stuck."

However, last year, in deference to his grandfather Colin Campbell, he made the decision to revert to his Scots surname. "I'm so proud of my Scottish roots and my heritage and I don't want my children to lose that."

Born in Glasgow in 1980, he studied English literature at Edinburgh University and entered Popstars as a way of making music. "Fame never interested me," he says. "I just went along and enjoyed it for what it was."

He turned down Simon Cowell's offer of a record deal, instead writing and releasing Colourblind, which went to No 1 in the UK charts in 2002. He supported Shakira on tour, wrote a book and starred as Rhett Butler in the West End production of Gone With The Wind. The show was panned by critics and closed after 79 performances in June 2008, but Campbell remains proud of it.

And while he has been offered other "celebrity" TV, he says Popstar to Opera Star was different. "I have a blanket 'no' policy on anything reality because I feel I've come from that but my first professional performance was when I was 12 with Scottish Opera in The Trojans. A year later I auditioned for a singing role in Carmen. I won through and went on this wonderful nationwide tour."

At the end of the run he chose to go back to school rather than become a travelling theatre kid. "That was over 15 years ago but I've always had the question of 'what if'. I look at Katherine Jenkins and I wonder what my first record would have been like, had I trained classically."

Pretty good, as it turns out.

Keith Jack
Keith Jack
Keith Jack

Runner-up, Any Dream Will Do, 2007

The young singer from Dalkeith was studying musical theatre at Edinburgh's Telford College when he joined the Glasgow auditions for a new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph.

"My sister persuaded me to do it," he says. "My dad and I went to Hampden and expected to go out that day. Then when I went to London I thought, 'Oh well, it'll be good just to go to London.' Then when I got to Joseph School I thought, 'It'll be good to be here ...' I never expected to get as far as I did."

He describes the whole experience as "mind-blowing – because you always had cameras around you and people asking if you were nervous, and say there were probably about 28 million people watching. It was nerve-wracking but I loved every single minute of it."

He also says the show made him grow up fast, giving him insight into the industry. "When I go for auditions now it's easy because I've already done the longest audition of my life," he laughs. "You get more rejection than acceptance in this industry – but being so close and still not winning has made me tougher."

It has also given him the career he dreamed of. "I've not stopped working since. My first job was when the Queen was up at the Scottish parliament, and my next was singing for the king and queen of Spain. I did a lot of concerts then I went into Joseph on tour, did an album, another tour, did panto, worked on the new album, then panto again this year."

This article was first published in the Scotsman Magazine on Saturday, 6 March, 2010

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  • Last Updated: 08 March 2010 2:07 PM
  • Source:
  • Location: Scotland
  • Related Topics: Reality TV

Mister T,

Edinburgh 08/03/2010 09:01:42
What a balanced article.
So kids remember forget school and uni set your sights on being a popstar. There's no such thing as failure as even then as Nick Berry tells us "Every Loser Wins".
What a pile of tripe the Scotsman has become - and I say that as a reader under 40 with 25+ years readership but then again I'm not in the target market judging by the direction taken over the last 5 years.


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