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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 December, 2003, 05:18 GMT
Michelle captures Pop Idol crown
Michelle McManus
Pop Idol winner Michelle McManus from Glasgow
Michelle McManus has captured the title of Pop Idol, beating rival Mark Rhodes in the series finale.

The 23-year-old from Glasgow captured a majority of the 10.2 million public votes that were cast for the ITV1 show.

Michelle had been the bookies' favourite to beat 21-year-old Mark, from Walsall in the West Midlands.

The show's judges, including Pete Waterman and Neil Fox, said the whole series had been a success because the outcome had been so unpredictable.

Michelle, who has won a recording deal, said: "To everyone who said I couldn't do it, I've done it!"

'Broken the norm'

Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell - a staunch supporter of Michelle throughout the series - said that she had "broken the norm" of pop stars.

It was reported that fellow judge Pete Waterman, who was critical of Michelle's early progress in the contest, swiftly exited the studio after the result was announced.

Michelle is due to release a specially-written debut single All This Time next year.

She said she would be moving to London with her two best friends.

I am part of the British public and we won't vote for people because we feel sorry for them, we vote for them because they are talented
Michelle McManus

"Whether it lasts a year or 20 years, I'm going to give it my best shot," Michelle added.

"I just want to do really well and I'll break my back in trying," she said.

"I haven't come from anywhere - I was nobody six months ago."

Michelle denied she had won on a sympathy vote.

"I am part of the British public and we won't vote for people because we feel sorry for them, we vote for them because they are talented," she said.

Michelle said she would like to perform a duet with Meatloaf.

Mark Rhodes
Losing finalist Mark Rhodes was seen as the outsider

The signer had wished her luck and sent flowers after hearing she had been compared to him, she added.

The programme amassed a greater total of votes than the first series finale, which accrued 8.7 million for the showdown between Will Young and Gareth Gates.

The show is also thought to have attracted a record number of text messages for an interactive television programme.

It is estimated that around 15 million viewers watched the second series reach its conclusion.

Runner-up Mark was seen as the dark horse in the final, having narrowly escaped elimination in the earlier stages of the series.

Simon Cowell told him during his final performances that if he won, it would be one for "ordinary bloke idol".

Scottish pride

Bookmakers Ladbrookes said they have been "taken to the cleaners" by punters who put early bets on Michelle to win at odds of 33/1.

Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell said he voted for Michelle and congratulated her on winning Pop Idol.

"Michelle brought sparkle to the contest and real hope and then pride to Scotland," he said.

"This is a big signal to young Scots, if you have the ambition and go for it, you can win."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jane Warr
"She may not look like a pop star but viewers thought she was simply the best"



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