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Sunday, 16 December, 2001, 11:33 GMT
Korben ejected from Pop Idol
Korben
Korben's performance failed to impress
Pop Idol contestant Korben has blamed his "public outing" as a gay man for his elimination from the ITV 1 singing competition.

The 21-year-old, named after a character from a sci-fi movie, become the first singer to be ejected from the first-heat final of TV's Pop Idol search, following a telephone vote.

But the singer, whose real name is Chris Niblett, says his chances of success were affected when he was "outed" earlier this week as a contestant on the Channel 5 Mr Gay UK contest in 1998.

He said: "I didn't declare my sexuality - it was only after it had been publicly outed that everybody knew.

'Shame'

"I think without that there would have been a pretty good chance of me getting through.

"It's a shame that people are steered towards that way of thinking, but I think times are changing, just not quickly enough for me."

Korben, who named himself after the Major Korben Dallas character in the film The Fifth Element, gave a "weak" performance of a George Michael song in the programme, according to the judges.

Nine of the 10 finalists performed their favourite song from their own chosen pop idols.

The 10th, heavyweight Pop Idol Rik Waller, was forced to pull out of the show's first heat final because of a sore throat.

Mr Waller is considered a serious contender for the Pop Idol crown after becoming a viewers' favourite.

Pop Idol chiefs have decided to let him sit out the first round and will let him return for the second heat final.

Gareth
Gareth Gates is the favourite to win a recording contract
If Mr Waller decides he will be unable to perform then Darius Danesh, who made his name singing Britney Spears in the Popstars series, will come off the subs bench and take his place.

A Pop Idol spokeswoman said producers were keen for Mr Waller to stay with the show but a decision would have to be made next week.

It was originally though he would be forced to pull out of the competition altogether after realising his voice would not be strong enough for the recording of the first show.

Conceited

It will now be an anxious wait for both him and Mr Danesh - Mr Danesh is first substitute because he came third in Mr Waller's heat.

Although Mr Waller was a popular entrant with voters, the judges have not been quite as impressed.

Simon Cowell told him that all the attention he had been receiving in the press had made him conceited.

See also:

18 Nov 01 | Wales
Pop Idol wannabes reach finals
17 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
Under-age Pop Idol hopeful rumbled
16 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
Take That manager attacks Pop Idol
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