Pop Idols biggest stars now from two BAFTAs to becoming exam invigilator

SingerDarius Campbell Danesh was found deadin his apartment on 11 August at the age of 41 and the cause of his death in Rochester, Minnesota is still unknown.

The star rose to fame in ITV show Popstars in 2001 but didn't make it into the band, although he didn’t give up.

The following year, he appeared on the first series ofPop Idolwhere he came third behind Will Young and Gareth Gates.

Despite coming third place, Darius went on to have an incredibly successful career including releasing two albums and working in theatre. As tributes pour in for the star, we take a look at the other Pop Idol stars and where they are now…

Gareth Gates

Gareth Gates, 38, was the runner-up of Pop Idol series one, in 2002.

After Pop Idol, he had a handful of big hits, including the million-selling cover of 'Unchained Melody' and the number one single 'Stupid Mistake', and his iconic cover of 'Spirit in the Sky' with The Kumars.

In 2014, he competed on Dancing on Ice: All Stars and took part in The Big Reunion as part of supergroup 5th Story.

Gates famously had a brief fling with Katie Price and dated Coronation Street star Faye Brookes, when they starred in Legally Blonde The Musical. They had a relationship between 2012 and 2019.

In 2009 Gareth played the title role in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Adelphi Theatre.

He was previously married to Suzanne Mole until their split in 2012 and the couple share a daughter, Missy Gates, 13.

He co-founded of The Gates and Wilkes Academy for Performing Arts, for children aged five – 18, which is now known as the the Wilkes Academy.

Will Young

Will Young, 43, won the first ever series of ITV's Pop Idol in 2002 and his first single, Evergreen, became the fastest-selling debut single in the UK.

The following year, he released his debut album From Now On, which went straight to number one. Since then, Will has released five albums, four of which went to the number one spot.

He has won two Brit Awards from 12 nominations, and has the estimated worldwide sale of over eight million albums.

Alongside his music career, Will has also tried his hand at acting, making his debut in the 2005 BBC film Mrs Henderson Presents, starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, in which he played Bertie.

In 2016, he joined the cast of Strictly Come Dancing, partnering with Karen Clifton, however, after just three weeks, he announced that he was quitting the show for “personal reasons”.

In May 2022 Will bravely opened up about his twin brother's suicide. The singer took part in a Channel 4 documentary calledWill Young: Losing My Twin Rupert , where he talks about Rupert's death in 2020.

Rik Waller

Rik Waller, 41, appeared on the first series of Pop Idol at the age of 20 but a bout of laryngitis saw him exit the show early and he was replaced by Darius.

After dropping out of Pop Idol, he signed a record deal with EMI believed to be worth around £400,000, and got off to a good start with a cover of I Will Always Love You.

Later that year, his career flopped again, when he was booted off Celebrity Fit Club for secret eating.

He gave his singing career another go, after forming his own band and signing with Red Admiral Records. But two months into his tour in 2004, three shows were cancelled due to low ticket sales.

Rik later gave up on singing after falling in love with a pagan in 2007 who banned him from performing. The relationship didn't last.

He found himself jobless shortly after, and he spoke to theDaily Mailin 2013, saying: '”The most demoralising thing I’ve ever had to do was queue up at the job centre and have people look at me saying, ‘What a failure’.”

However things turned around that year and Rik became an exam invigilator and he is now believed to work full time overseeing secondary school exams for Piper Assessment, in Sittingbourne, Kent.

Zoe Birkett

Zoe Birkett was 16 when she appeared on Pop Idol, finishing behind Will, Gareth and Darius.

Despite coming fourth she released a single called Treat Me Like a Lady before launching into a long West End career.

In 2009, Zoe, 37, was cast in West End theatre and performed in Priscilla Queen of the Desert where she stayed for two years.

She starred as the lead singer in Garrick Theatre's 2011 production of Respect La Diva, and became the leading lady of Thriller Live in 2012.

Zoe was also Alexandra Burke's understudy for The Bodyguard and since 2021 she has performed as Arabia in Moulin Rouge! The Musical and currently understudies the main female lead role of Satine, which debuted in May 2022.

In 2014, Zoe appeared in the non-celebrity version of Big Brother. She is also a published children's author and has a five-year-old daughter, Aaria. She married Aaria's father Adam Tahir last year.

Jessica Garlick

Jessica Garlick, 41, appeared on the first series of Pop Idol and finished in ninth place.

The following year she was selected to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in Tallinn, Estonia.

Although she didn't win the music competition Jessica impressed viewers across Europe with her song Come Back, which saw her finish in third place.

Her success was not topped by a UK entry for another 20 years until Sam Ryder came a close second in 2022 with his hit, Spaceman.

After her storming success Jessica took a break from singing until 2009 when she returned with a comeback single, Hard Not to Fall.

In her personal life, Jessica appeared ready to settle down with her beau Owen Satterly, whom she had married in 2004. The couple share a daughter Olivia and son Noah.

Hayley Evetts

Hayley Evetts made it all the way to the final of the first series of Pop Idol, but ultimately finished in fifth place

Despite missing out on the top spot Hayley won the hearts of the nation and landed herself several TV presenting gigs after the show finished. She hosted Popstars: The Rivals Extra on ITV and Sky's Cruel Holiday.

Hayley even tried her hand at acting, thrilling audiences as Eve in Coronation Street.

However in 2011 Hayley returned to singing and released her single Waste My Time.

The following year in 2012 Hayley decided to try and make it once again, auditioning for The X Factor. However she failed to make it through to the judges' houses stage, leaving the competition at boot camp.

Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus, 42, is one of the more recognisable stars from Pop Idol, after scooping the top spot in series two.

After winning the show, Michelle released her debut single All This Time, reaching the coveted number 1 spot in January 2004. Meanwhile her debut album and only, The Meaning of Love charted at a very respectable number 3.

After being dropped by her record company, she set up her own label, McMannii Records, however she never released another album.

She hasn't totally retreated from the spotlight though and has worked as a presenter on several TV shows, including Scottish lifestyle TV programme The Hour, and Loose Women.

Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes

Mark Rhodes also appeared in Pop Idol’s second series and finished as runner-up behind Michelle McManus, while Sam Nixon finished in third.

After the show, the pair performed under the moniker Sam & Mark. Their first single, a cover of With a Little Help from My Friends, hit number one in February 2004.

However, their second offering,The Sun Has Come Your Way, failed to climb any higher than 19, and the duo was subsequently dropped by their label.

Like Michelle, Mark found more success as a television presenter, and racked up an impressive resume with credits including Top of the Pops Reloaded, TMi, and Do Something Different.

Mark and Sam scooped two Children’s BAFTA’s (Best Presenters and Best Entertainment Show) in 2015 for their work on Sam & Mark’s Big Friday Wind Up (CBBC).

That year they also published their first children's book The Adventures of Long Arm. The pair are still working together, making public appearances, and performing in panto as well as their other programming.

Andy Scott-Lee

Before appearing on Pop Idol series two, Andy Scott-Lee had already enjoyed success as a member of the group 3SL. It was named after the three Scott-Lee siblings, Andy, Steve, and Ant – though not their sister Lisa, who was in the group Steps.

3SL, who were signed to Sony, had two top 20 singles. However, after breaking up in 2002, Andy decided to try his chances on the reality show, earning a place in the final seven.

In 2005, he decided to try to represent the UK at Eurovision, and competed for the coveted spot against Javine, Katie Price, Tricolore and Gina G, coming in third place.

After the programme, he released a solo single in 2008, Unforgettable. That year, he had appearances on ITV's The Mint; on the BBC programme Never Mind the Buzzcocks as well as other shows.

Throughout his career Andy has also dabbled in panto and starred alongside Nikki Grahame in Cinderella.

Andy Scott-Lee is still believed to be involved in the music industry as a songwriter.

When it came to his personal life, between 2006 and 2008, Andy was married to Liberty X star Michelle Heaton.

Marc Dillon

Marc Dillon, 41, was a contestant in the second series of Pop Idol in 2003 and finished 10th.

The Scottish singer admitted in 2003 on ITV's This Morning that he had done time as a teenager after he was involved in the mugging in which the victim was stabbed in Livingston, West Lothian.

Marc said he had been rehabilitated after serving six months of a one year sentence.

Marc is currently making a name for himself as Robbie Williams in a Take That Experience tribute act.

He has also starred as Michael Bublé in a tribute act and performed on cruises and at weddings.

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