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EDITIONS
Monday, 9 December, 2002, 17:29 GMT
BBC defends Fame Academy
Ronan Keating and Sinead Quinn
Famous guests have been brought into the academy
The controller of BBC One has defended talent show Fame Academy, insisting it has been a success.

Lorraine Heggessey said the series has nurtured great talents instead of humiliating its students like other shows in the same genre.

But she said she had yet to decide whether to commission a second series, saying discussions had yet to be held.

Fame Academy ran into criticism when it launched in October when it was unfavourably compared to similar shows such as Popstars and Pop Idol.

Lorraine Heggessey
Lorraine Heggessey is controller of BBC One
Ratings were much lower than anticipated and even the show's "headteacher" Richard Park weighed in by admitting there were flaws with the first show.

Ratings have swelled in recent weeks, rising to 6.3 million for the penultimate live showdown on Friday.

Ms Heggessey said: "I regard Fame Academy as a success.

"There are lots of different ways to measure success. We have to please all of the people some of the time and it has brought in a much younger audience than we normally get for BBC One."

Transformation

The show, presented by Cat Deeley and Patrick Kielty, offers a prize of a 1m recording contract with a pop star lifestyle to match.

"What Fame Academy has done is really invest in talent. Viewers have seen a complete transformation in people going into the academy," said Ms Heggessey.

"They have been working their socks off in there and Fame Academy is about maximising their talents rather than their humiliation."

But she said there would be no talks about a possible return for some time.

"We only commissioned one series and that was it. We won't be making a decision for a while yet," she said.

The winner of Fame Academy will be chosen by the public on Friday as the three remaining students - Sinead Quinn, Lemar Obika and David Sneddon - perform for the final time.


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