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Saturday, 9 February, 2002, 04:06 GMT
Gareth remains Pop Idol favourite
Gareth Gates and Will Young
More than 10 million people are expected to tune in
The battle for Pop Idol is reaching its final stage, but according to bookmakers there will be only one winner.

Gareth Gates is still ahead of rival Will Young as they gear up for Saturday's live final on ITV1.

The 17-year-old, who suffers from a stammer, is rated at odds of 2/9 on at Coral bookmakers, with Will back on 11/4.

More than 10 million people are expected to tune into the talent search final, with the winner decided by viewers phone calls and emails.


The great thing about it being live is that you can't fix it

Executive producer Richard Holloway
Last week more than six million people voted, with Gareth winning 39.8% of the votes, Will on 39.3% and Darius Danesh on 20.9%, a result which eliminated the former Popstars contestant.

More than five million viewers are expected to vote in Saturday's poll.

Will and Gareth have been travelling the UK this week in election-style "battle buses", gathering support ahead of the final vote.

On Saturday night's live final they will be required to sing three songs each before the panel.

They will perform the double A side single, to be released by the winner, but will also sing which ever track the panel thinks was their strongest during the series.

No fix

Pop Idol bosses have been forced to deny claims that the show has been rigged for Gareth to win the competition.

Executive producer Richard Holloway told The Sun newspaper that the winner is entirely decided by the public.

He said: "The judges give opinions, but people at home will decide who they like best.

"It's a public vote. The great thing about it being live is that you can't fix it."

There have also been accusations that Gareth puts on his speech impediment to gain sympathy votes.

Kate Thornton hosts ITV2's spin-off
Kate Thornton hosts ITV2's spin-off
However his mother Wendy has angrily denied those claims.

She said: "It really upset us to hear that some people may feel that with the improvement in Gareth's voice this week he had been faking his stammer.

"It's unfortunate that after him spending so much time and effort trying to improve his speech he's now been accused of faking it."

The success of the programme has also had a major knock-on effect for ITV2.

The channel shows behind-the-scenes footage of Pop Idol on Saturdays, with the contestants and judges being interviewed by presenter Kate Thornton.

According to unofficial figures, almost one million people tuned into last Saturday's programme, making it by far the biggest show on the digital channel.

 VOTE RESULTS
Who should win Pop Idol?

Will
 54.39% 

Gareth
 45.61% 

8319 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

06 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Head-to-head: Pop Idol finalists
04 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
William aims to conquer Pop Idol
02 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
Darius out of Pop Idol
02 Feb 02 | Music
Rik faces Pop Idol legal threat
28 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Pop Idol audience reaches 10 million
26 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
'Star performer' Zoe out of Pop Idol
23 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Pop Idol: What's all the fuss about?
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