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'Second Chance Idol' will give new life to reality TV, says man behind 'Popstars'

Pop and rock has-beens are to have a second chance of glory in a television series being devised by Simon Fuller, one of the brains behind Pop Idol.

Mr Fuller, who originally managed the Spice Girls, is working on a show in which faded stars compete for the prize of a recording contract. "The working title is Second Chance Idol. It's where we go to people who have had a taste of fame, but sadly their candle has been snuffed," he said in a rare interview with the American magazine Time.

The magazine predicts the series could provide hope for acts of yesterday such as Tiffany, whose 1980s hits included "I Think We're Alone Now", and Vanilli, the surviving member of the Milli Vanilli duo. Mr Fuller believes the show could be on British television as early as February and in the United States by the summer.

He said the show could give new life to the reality TV formula. "In England, the bubble's already about to burst," Mr Fuller said, citing the BBC's Fame Academy, which has failed to achieve the success of the Popstars series or the 40 per cent audience share of its Spanish equivalent.

Similarly, although Big Brother has continued to rate strongly in Britain, the second series in France drew only a fifth of the votes of the original. "The clever thing is to take it and parody it," Mr Fuller said.

The potential for recycling one-time celebrities has already been shown in Britain with the huge success of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. The ITV series revived the career of the DJ Tony Blackburn, who won a series of jungle challenges to take the crown, and boosted the image of Christine Hamilton.

Mr Fuller, who has made millions from the craze for reality television and talent contests, is reported to have cut a deal with ABC in America worth more than $15m (£10m) for a show that is provisionally called Superstar Girl.

The female contestants in the show will have to display some knowledge of the world and play sport as well as perform."If Pop Idol reinvented the talent show, Superstar Girl will reinvent the beauty pageant," Mr Fuller said.

While critics are scathing about the highly packaged, business-orientated attitude to pop, Pop Idol has certainly found stars who are presently selling records in their thousands, even if, like the now disbanded group Hear'Say, they lack the staying power of the Rolling Stones.