Idols is a South African reality competition talent show based on the original UK format Pop Idol created by Simon Fuller and produced locally by Fremantle Media in association with M-Net Original Productions in which prospective singers around the country audition for the chance to win big prizes and the title of Idols winner.
The local version of the international smash hit Pop Idol features the same format as overeas, and at its heart a contest to determine the best young singer in South Africa.
As with other international versions, Idols is a singing talent competition which lets the audience decide on the winner. Hopefuls audition in front of three judges, but only a few are give a "Golden Ticket" to go to the next round, usually in Sun City.
After several rounds of Theatre Week, in which the judges whittle the Top 100 down in a series of singing tasks, a group usually a Top 10) is chosen to face the public vote in weekly eliminations.
Once the judges have whittled down the contestants to the finalists, it is up to the audience to phone in and choose who they want to survive to the next round after hearing them perform.
There are typically a number of prizes for the winner, but the big prize is a recording contract and their own CD release. There is also a "Wooden Mic" prize for the contestant deemed the worst singer each season.
Originally broadcast exclusively on M-Net, the show later began simulcasting on Mzansi Magic. In later seasons, a 24-hour dedicated channel was introduced on DStv which screens all of the auditions, including those of people who didn't make the cut.
Idols also later aired on DStv's On Demand service. DStv's mobile users can watch Idols SA on their Drifta of Walka and DStv On Demand offers the shows for its PC users.
Auditions are typically open to South African citizens between the ages of 16 and 30, although the minimum age is sometimes 18. Auditions take place in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, with Soweto added in Season 7. They have also rotated to places like Bloemfontein and Polokwane.
South Africa was the third country to produce Idols, after the UK and Poland.
Dave Thompson left the show after Season 5 and emigrated to Australia. Randall Abrahams, Marah Louw and Gareth Cliff returned for Season 6, accompanied by a guest judge each week.
Marah was replaced from Season 7 by radio DJ Unathi Msengana and choreographer Somizi Mhlongo was added as a judge in Season 11. Cliff left the show after Season 12.
Having presented Seasons 2-4, Colin Moss declined to continue as host of Idols 5, saying he wanted to concentrate on his film career instead.
After an audition process involving Season 1 host Sami Sabiti, SABC3 continuity presenter Liezel van der Westhuizen, Top Billing presenter Janez Vermeiren and YFM jock and TV presenter Pabi Moloi, the new host of Idols was announced as Liezel van der Westhuizen in December, 2008.
Liezel was joined by rapper ProVerb as co-host for Season 6. Liezel left the show during the sixth season and ProVerb became sole host from Season 7.
Season 01: Candy Litchfield, Matthew Stewardson, Sami Sabiti
Season 02: Colin Moss, Letoya Makhene
Season 03: Colin Moss
Season 04: Colin Moss
Season 05: Liezel van der Westhuizen
Season 06: Liezel van der Westhuizen, ProVerb
Season 07: ProVerb
Season 08: ProVerb
Season 09: ProVerb
Season 10: ProVerb
Season 11: ProVerb
Season 12: ProVerb
Season 14: ProVerb
Season 15: ProVerb
Season 16: ProVerb
Season 17: ProVerb
Season 01: Heinz Winckler
Season 02: Anke Pietrangeli
Season 03: Karin Kortjé
Season 04: Jody Abrahams
Season 05: Jason Hartman and Sasha-Lee Davids
Season 06: Elvis Blue
Season 07: David van Vuuren
Season 08: Khaya Mthethwa
Season 09: Musa Sukwene
Season 10: Vincent Bones
Season 11: Karabo Mogane
Season 12: Noma Khumalo
Season 13: Paxton Fielies
Season 14: Yanga Sobetwa
Season 15: Luyolo Yiba
Season 16: Zama Khumalo
Season 17: TBA
In 2006 an Afrikaans version of Idols was produced and aired on DStv's kykNET channel. The winner was Dewald Louw. Click here for TVSA's Afrikaans Idols mini-site.
Having been an M-Net staple since its inception, Idols became exclusive to Mzansi Magic from Season 12.