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by Dave Thompson

This month sees the start of the first round of the South African Idols auditions, which are due to be broadcast in July. It's the first season that I won't be part of after having been on board as a judge from the very start in 2002.

Cape Town was where it began all those years ago, and I'll never forget the sight that welcomed us as we drove up to the Peninsula Hotel at the start of day one.

Remember, South Africa was only the second country after the United Kingdom to host a series of Idols, and in many ways we were all just making it up as we went along.

None of us were prepared for the queue of anxious ‘wannabees' that stretched out of the hotel lobby, through the car park, across the road into another building, then down a flight of stairs into an underground car park.

Before the cameras even started to roll, we needed make up. Without a spade-full of colour slapped across our cheeks, pale people like me glow like Casper the unfriendly ghost. I figured that while they were at it, I may as well accept their kind offer of more mascara and a touch of lip gloss.

Feeling like David Bowie I settled in behind the judges' desk as we waited for the first victim.

I'd love to say I remember the first candidate, but I don't. What I do remember is the absolute shambles that erupted when we tried to deliver our ‘critique'. Basically we all just started speaking at once. We thought we were very clever, arguing amongst ourselves and picking fights with the bewildered contestant, until our director Christo burst into the audition room waving his hands about like a nursery school teacher.

Once it had been explained to us that we needed to talk one-at-a-time, that we must not talk over each other and that we must look at the contestant when delivering our ‘judgments', things made more sense.

That is, until the guy in the Elvis suit walked in. Once more all hell broke loose as Randall and I, in particular, went for his jugular. You see, we knew this guy, and he was no more than a stooge with a dachshund sent by Mark Gilman, a friend of ours, to make trouble!

Of course, we ‘sorted him out', but once again we all tried to get the first, middle and last word in and it's unlikely ‘Elvis' heard a thing.

We saw 109 people that day and finished at about 9:30pm. There were apparently over 3,000 entries in Cape Town alone. How were we going to get through them in just two days?

If only we'd known that the shy Stellenbosch student who sang I'm a believer would go on to win Idols 2002, we could have skipped the rest of the auditions especially as we'd seen Heinz Winckler on day one…..or was it day two?

Posted in lifestyle |
Posted by Dave Thompson
12 Apr 2010

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