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Monday, 8 January, 2001, 14:06 GMT
Reality TV bandwagon rolls
The Mole contestants
The Mole contestants prepare for the 'adventure of a lifetime'
Two new reality TV shows are launching this week after the success of Big Brother and Castaway in 2000.

ITV kicks off the ratings game with Pop Stars on Wednesday, which aims to find a new chart-topping band.

Then on Thursday, Channel 5 follows with The Mole, based on an award-winning format from Belgium and very much like last year's worldwide hit Big Brother.

Pop Stars
Pop Stars aims to make a new hit group

In the UK, Channel 4 had a huge summer success with Big Brother, scoring record-viewing figures including 10m for last show.

No doubt Channel 5 is hoping to have the same triumph with The Mole - winner of top TV award the Golden Rose of Montreux.

The show follows five men and five women who are taken abroad on "the adventure of a lifetime".

The group is set a variety of challenges, both physical and psychological, which can help them win up to 200,000.

But there is a catch - one of the 10 people is The Mole, specially selected to disrupt the group's endeavours.

One contestant is eliminated each week, and at the end of the series, only three remain - a winner, a loser, and The Mole.

The winner, who comes closest to choosing The Mole at the end of the series in March, wins all of the prize money, while the loser takes nothing.

Pop Stars
Pop Stars has auditioned thousands of hopefuls

With Pop Stars, contestants will - over the next few weeks - compete to become part of a new pop group complete with recording contract and possibly album deal with Polydor.

Thousands of hopefuls have taken part in auditions around the UK to win the chance to take part in the programme.

The programme will show around 3,000 being put through their paces to whittle them down to the five successful winners.

The show will then follow the all-singing, all-dancing outfit as they go through the process of recording their single to watching how it fares in the charts.

These two shows are just the beginning of what looks set to be a glut of spin-offs from last year's Big Brother phenomenon.

Following Pop Stars, ITV also plans to unleash Public Property, which follows six contestants who hand over control of their lives for three months.

Castaway won't be returning to Taransay for the second series

The BBC is planning a second series of its remote island community-building experiment Castaway.

Channel 4 will come back with new series Chained on its new digital service E4 from March. It also plans a second round of Big Brother, although details are rather sketchy.

However, the real winner of the reality TV wars could ultimately be ITV when it launches its own version of hit US show Survivor.

The show became a national obsession in the US during the summer and smashed the US version of Big Brother in the ratings.

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