Idols is a television show on the South African television network M-Net, based on the popular British show Pop Idol. The show is a contest to determine the best young singer in South Africa.
It was presented by Candy Litchfield and Matthew Stewardson in Season 1. Halfway through the season Stewardson was replaced by Sami Sabiti. After Colin Moss and Letoya Makhene hosted together in Season 2, Moss went solo for season 3. Liezl van der Westhuizen became the host in season 4 and was sidekicked by ProVerb in season 5 who hosted the semifinal rounds.
In 2006 the show had a spin-off on sister channel KykNet where exactly the same format was executed. However the entire programme was in Afrikaans as well as the songs that were performed. So far there has only been one season of Afrikaans Idols. It was hosted by Sean Else. It was a dismal failure though.
After several auditions the performers are narrowed down to 100 in the theatre rounds. After that the semifinalists perform live and are chosen by the audience to qualify for the round of the last 10-12 finalists. There were four judges (Randall Abrahams, Dave Thompson, Marcus Brewster and Penny Lebyane in season one; Brewster and Lebyane did not return for the second season and were replaced by Mara Louw-Thomson and Gareth Cliff) who provided critiques of each contestant’s performance. Viewers have several hours following the broadcast of the show to vote by phone, SMS or online for their favourite contestant. On the following night’s episode, the contestant(s) with the fewest votes is sent home.
- 1 Judges and presenters
- 2 Season synopsis
- 3 Controversy
Judges and presenters
Liezl van der Westhuizen
The first season of Idols South Africa started in March 2002. Auditions were held in January. After Poland, it was the second international spin-off of the original Pop Idol series that went on air. However the South African show did last shorter than the polish version and therefore Heinz Winckler became the second Idol winner worldwide on 17 June 2002. He triumphed over Brandon October who came second and Melanie Lowe who finished third.
The second season ran from June to October 2003 and was won by then 20-year-old Anke Pietrangeli who was given the nickname The Kimberley Diamond by the viewers during the show. Half of the judging panel were replaced as were the two hosts, with Colin Moss and Letoya Makhene now hosting. It was also the first time worldwide on an Idol show that only two male singers managed to advance to the
Season three aired in the second half of 2005 with an unchanged judging panel and Colin Moss as the only host of the show. The Grand Final took place at Gold Reef City, Johannesburg on 27 November 2005 between Karin Kortje and Gift Gwe. Each contestant sang a favourite song chosen by them, a favourite song chosen by the judges, and a brand new single. After a record number of votes cast, Karin Kortje was crowned as the 2005 Idol with 62.58% of the votes.
Season 1 (Afrikaans Idols)
In 2006 the English format of Idols took a break to make room for the Afrikaans version. Season 1 of Afrikaans Idols represented a unique change in Idols format on a global scale by replacing all previous judges and hosts, moving networks (M-Net to sister station KykNet) and therefore changing the lingua franca of the show from English to Afrikaans as KykNET is solely an Afrikaans network.
On 13 April 2007, M-Net announced the series would return to their network for a fourth season in English. The initial auditions were completed on 6 August with the judging and public vote stages due to start on 19 August. The results from each show display a merge of the judges (49%) and audience (51%) vote. Jody Williams, a 17-year-old from Cape Town, emerged as the eventual winner. Her best performances included moving ballads such as “Greatest Reward” by Celine Dion and “Dance with my Father” by Luther Vandross. However, she proved her versatility and impressed the judges with excellent renditions of more up-tempo songs such as “Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston and “Ain’t no Other Man” by Christina Aguilera. Her first single, which she and fellow finalist, Andriëtte Norman, performed at the finale, was called “Love is All Around” and was sold out the day after the finale.
M-Net announced a fifth season of South African Idols which premiered on Sunday, 1 February 2009, with a summer vibe and new rules.
In addition to upping the heat of the selection process the strict a capella rule was abandoned. Instead auditioners were allowed to bring instruments to the casting. The judges do not seem too pleased with the instruments, especially guitars which are very rarely played in tune.
On the official finale Sasha Lee Davids was announced the winner, with 52.77% of the votes. Four days later, Idols announced that there had been problems with the voteline, and some of the votes that were sent before the cut-off time were not counted. The investigation hit the front page of the Times on 8 May 2009 and later in the day it was announced on www.mnet.co.za/idols/ that the recount had showed that Jason Hartman had received 200000 more votes than Sasha Lee Davids(of 2.3 million total votes in the finale (recount)). After discussion between M-Net and FremantleMedia (the format owners), Jason Hartman and Sasha Lee Davids were declared winners. They both received identical full prizes.
Despite the previous seasons voting fiasco in the finale, M-Net announced a sixth season of South African Idols which premiered on 18 July 2010. Idols judge Dave Thompson did not return to the panel this season. During the auditions, which started in April, he was replaced with guest judges from the South African music industry, similar to the American Idol (Season 9) audition stages.
For the first time since Season 2 the jury has no impact on the outcome which now reflect a 100% viewer’s verdict. On 2 November 2010, 30-year-old Elvis Blue from George in the Western Cape was declared the winner.
It was announced during the Season 6 finale that the show had been renewed for a seventh season in 2011. Auditions took place in February and March 2011. On 20 January 2011 it was announced that Mara Louw would not return to the judging panel for the seventh season. The decision came after she was reprimanded for mixing painkillers and alcohol before a show. She was also involved in a racism scandal after she said the show should be moved to SABC3 so that a black person could win Idols, as many black people did not have DStv and could not send hundreds of SMSes to vote for their favourites. She was replaced by Metro FM personality and songwriter Unathi Msengana. On 4 October 2011, Dave Van Vuuren from Johannesburg in Gauteng was declared the winner.
It was announced on 9 January 2012 that the show had been renewed for an eighth season in 2012. Nationwide auditions took place from February 2012. The 8th season of Idols was shown on M-Net and Mzansi Magic on DStv simultaneously. On 2 October 2012, Khaya Mthethwa from Durban in Kwa-Zulu Natal was declared the winner, becoming the first black contestant in the show’s history to win.
It was announced on 11 January 2013 that the show had been renewed for an ninth season in 2013. Nationwide auditions took place from February 2013. The 9th season of Idols was broadcast simultaneously on M-Net and Mzansi Magic on DStv. The season was won by Musa Sukwene.
Broadcasting of the 10th season of Idols commenced on M-Net on 13 July 2014. The finale was broadcast on M-Net and Mzansi Magic on DStv. His inspiring life story of being a street kid at the age of 12 after his mother died touched the hearts of many as Vincent Bones emerged as the 10th Idols SA winner on 23 November 2014. Runner up was Bongiwe Silinda,the second black woman in Idols SA history to go as far as the finale.
Season 11 of Idols South Africa began broadcasting on 12 July 2015. Somizi Mhlongo was added to the judging panel, and the duration of each episode was increased to two hours. The top 2 were Mmatema Moremi and Karabo Mogane where Karabo won the season.
Season 12 began broadcasting in July 2016 and ended on 27 November 2016.The top two were Noma Khumalo and Thami Shobede where Noma won season 12.
Season 13 began to broadcast on 09 July 2017 and the Grand Finale took place on 19 November 2017. The season ended with Paxton Fielies being crowned the winner.
Auditions for Season 14 took place early in 2018 with the show kicking off on Sunday 8th July 2018 and ending on Sunday 18th November 2018.
Auditions for Season 15 took place early in 2019 with the show airing from Sunday 7th July 2019 to Sunday 17th November 2019.
Auditions for Season 16 took place early in 2020 with the show kicking off on Sunday 2nd August 2020 and end on Sunday 29th November 2020.
The show has gone through a lot of controversies since its first broadcast. In Season 1, Matthew Stewardson was replaced halfway through the show by Sami Sabiti. Soon after that Stewardson checked himself into a drug rehab center.
The outcome of Idols I was followed by a row of complaints about Heinz Wincklers victory as many viewers saw the result as injustice and racially biased.
Season 3 winner Karin Kortje was not so lucky in her personal life after the contest ended as her boyfriend was charged of robbery and murder just months after the show. In difference to the other finalists of her season, Kortje was not invited to take part of the final of the next season.
In the final showdown of Season 5 there have been problems with the voteline, and some of the votes that were sent before the cut-off time were not counted. The investigation hit the front page of the Times on 8 May 2009 and later in the day it was announced on the official Idols website that the recount had showed that Jason Hartman had received 200,000 more votes than Sasha Lee Davids, who was originally declared as the winner on the grand finale, with 52.77% of the votes. Four days later, Idols announced that, after discussion between M-Net and FremantleMedia (the format owners), Jason Hartman and Sasha Lee Davids were declared winners. They both received identical full prizes. This was the first time a win was shared on an Idol show.