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EDITIONS
Friday, 11 October, 2002, 20:45 GMT 21:45 UK
Ashley first out of Fame Academy
Ashley House
Ashley's performance did not save him from expulsion
The first contestant to be voted out of BBC One's talent show Fame Academy is 28-year-old teacher Ashley House.

Fellow nominee Nigel Wilson was chosen to stay by the public, while 20-year-old Pippa Fulton was elected to stay by the rest of the academy's students.

Nigel, 31, defied the odds - bookmakers had him as 4-6 favourite to be expelled.

Nigel Wilson
Nigel gets to go back to the academy

Each of the three nominees sang solo on Friday night's live show. The public was then invited to vote for their favourite to survive from the trio.

The contestants who were not up for eviction then had the task of deciding which of the remaining two would leave.

As his consolation prize Ashley, an economics teacher from Cheltenham, joined in the final song of the show.

Open in new window : BBC Fame Academy
Meet the contestants

Fame Academy, hosted by Cat Deeley and Patrick Kielty, sees a group of students being trained by experts to win a 1m recording contract and the chance to live a luxury lifestyle for a year.

Unofficial figures show a total of 4.6 million people watched the debut of the show last Friday, fewer than tuned into the Richard Gere and Julia Roberts film Runaway Bride on ITV1.
Fame Academy contestant Pippa Fulton
Pippa Fulton was nominated, but stayed

Viewing figures dipped to 3.7 million for Tuesday's programme, which showed the contestants being put through their paces in the academy.

By contrast the debut of ITV1 talent show Popstars: The Rivals on 7 September pulled an audience of 7.4 million, according to the same figures.

However, the BBC remains optimistic about the show's future.

"We are happy with the programme," said a BBC spokeswoman.

"We hope viewers will continue to watch as the series continues and the progress of the students develops."

Betting interest

Despite the viewing figures, bookmakers Coral have said they are seeing hundreds of bets placed on the outcome of the show every day.

"The show may be getting low ratings but the betting interest is terrific," said spokesman Simon Clare.
Fame Academy contestant Marli Buck
Marli Buck is the bookies' favourite

"We are already seeing hundreds of bets, though most of them have been placed on Nigel."

Nursing assistant Marli Buck, 27, is so far the favourite to win the talent show.

She has been given odds of 7-2 by Coral, from her original odds of 10-1, following the opening show.

Second favourites at 5-1 is the show's youngest contestant, Katie Lewis, 18, followed by Lemar Obika, 24, with odds of 6-1 and beautician Camilla Beeput at 7-1.


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