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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 22:41 GMT 23:41 UK
Fame Academy opens its doors
Fame Academy's 12th contestant Sinead Quinn
Sinead Quinn became the 12th contestant
Pop hopefuls have begun their quest for stardom on BBC One's new reality talent show Fame Academy.

The contestants were taken by helicopter to the 35m mansion in north London, where they will hone their performing skills, live on television on Friday night.

They will be trained for stardom by experts as they compete for a 1m record deal and year of living a life of luxury.

Open in new window : BBC Fame Academy
Meet the contestants

Eleven of the contestants, who include a teacher, gas fitter and truck salesman started the first show with a rendition of the Jackson 5's Can You Feel It?.

Splitting up into groups, they then performed the likes of T Rex's Get It On, Toploader's Dancing in the Moonlight and Destiny's Child's Say My Name.

The public voted for a 12th contestant after three more hopefuls auditioned live during the first show.

Sinead Quinn's throaty take on Macy Gray's I try was enough to beat Paul McDonald's version of Take That's Back For Good and David Sneddon's run through of Billy Joel's Uptown Girl.

Sinead said the feeling of victory was "weird", and that her heart had been pounding.

Celebrity tutors

Each week one of the contestants will be voted off the show by the public and fellow hopefuls from the house.

They will have to sing for their survival as their performance is rated by their tutors.

TV presenter Cat Deeley and comic Patrick Kielty will front the Friday night editions of the show, which has been seen as the BBC's answer to ITV's Popstars: The Rivals.

Contestants sing
Contestants took on a number of songs

Viewers will see the contestants perform live and receive coaching from guest tutors such as Anastacia and Enrique Iglesias.

Big Brother-style reality footage will also be seen of the contestants, aged between 18 and 31, who will live together at the mansion during the project. It has been rigged up with cameras which will film the goings-on.

Two of the contestants have already had record deals.

Ainslie Henderson, 23, from Hawick, Scotland, had a band called Suburbia who were signed to a small Los Angeles label before splitting up last year.

And singer-songwriter Marli Buck, from Lancashire, has had two record deals and works as a nursing assistant and counsellor at a hospital for people with eating disorders.

Chosen few

But the lucky 12 have diverse backgrounds.

Father-of-four Nigel Wilson, from Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, 31, sells trucks to Africa.

Helicopter carrying contestants
The hopefuls were taken away by helicopter
And And 28-year-old Ashley House, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is an economics teacher and committed Christian.

The other contestants include a drama student, an account manager, an IT engineer and a part-time beautician.

The group beat 36,000 hopefuls to take part in the show.

They will now be given four-hour vocal coaching sessions, intensive song-writing tutorials and exhausting dance and exercise classes with Kevin Adams.

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05 Oct 02 | Entertainment
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