Can you believe it’s now been ten years since the beginning of Pop Idol? The show may have only lasted two seasons in the UK, but its popularity has completely changed the world of pop and brought us some of the greatest pop acts of the past decade. Now seems like a good time to check in with the final ten contestants from the original series, and see what they’ve been up to since their Saturday night stardom…

1. Will Young (Twitter)

Life’s come full circle for Pop Idol winner Will. Next year, on the anniversary of his win he will be taking part in a TV talent show not as a contestant but as a judge! Will has just been announced as one of the judges for the BBC’s new show The Voice. I think he’ll be brilliant and it will be great to have him back on TV regularly. He also recently released the slowest dance album I’ve ever heard, which did however have one brilliant bonus track, The Way I See, and the album was a big success, even debuting at no.1.

2. Gareth Gates (Twitter)

Gareth was dropped by BMG in 2006 (after 3 years of preparing his third album for the label!) and was then signed to Universal. A documentary Whatever Happened To Gareth Gates?, where he seemed heartbreakingly insecure, was shown on ITV (watch it here). He released a new album, which actually got to no.23 – better than I remembered! Since then he’s made his name in musicals, starring in Joseph and Les Mis, and took part in Dancing On Ice in 2008. In a quite bizarre casting, his next project is the 2012 national tour of Hair. Never had Gareth down as a hippy…

3. Darius (Twitter)

Darius released two albums after Pop Idol, and like Gareth he wasn’t instantly dropped from his label after the second didn’t match up to the success of the first. Also like Gareth, he moved into musicals, starring in Guys and Dolls and Chicago. Between 2008 and 2010 he disappeared from the public eye, but made a comeback when he entered and won Popstar To Operastar. He followed this by performing in Carmen at The O2… and then in panto in Glasgow! He’s now back in Chicago and working on a new album, which almost went wrong when he lost all his songs (he found them).

4. Zoe Birkett (Twitter)

Zoe’s first single Treat Me Like A Lady reached no.12 and the planned follow-up Never Gonna Happen literally never happened. Unlike Gareth and Darius, she was immediately dropped and went back to normal life, taking A Levels and going to university. Zoe spent a few years performing in touring musicals and pantos, and almost got married to Mark Rhodes from Pop Idol 2… only to dump him for Anthony Hutton from Big Brother! After performing in the West End in Thriller Live and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, she will reunite with Gareth for the 2012 tour of Hair. How lovely!

ETA: Since this post Zoe has tweeted to let me know most of the info (which was taken from her Wikipedia) is wrong! She didn’t do A-Levels or university, didn’t go back to normal life (she’s lived in London since Pop Idol) and wasn’t nearly married. She’s never heard of the song Never Gonna Happen. But she is definitely going to be in Hair! Phew, something was right!

5. Hayley Evetts (Twitter)

Hayley didn’t get a record deal after Pop Idol, although she did feature on a rather good dance track called More by Mareeko. She became a TV presenter, most notably presenting Pop Idol Extra during the second series alongside Dane Bowers. Since then she’s inevitably gone into musicals, touring with Thriller Live, and this year she finally released her debut single, Waste My Time. She used a lot of capital letters when promoting it to her 152 Twitter followers. And she’s now back on TV in the form of Caroline Flack!

6. Rosie Ribbons (Twitter)

Rosie was an early fave in Pop Idol but crashed out after this famously disastrous ABBA rendition. She was however signed up for a record deal rumoured to be worth £1 million and recorded, but never released, an album called Misbehaving. She released two singles, Blink and A Little Bit, the latter later covered by Jessica Simpson. My fave Rosie song was Good Thing. After being dropped she moved to Australia, and quite remarkably auditioned for Australian Idol in 2007, but she only made the top 24. She’s now back in the UK where she’s been performing and recording new music.

7. Laura Doherty (Facebook)

I’d forgotten Laura came seventh as she was hardly heard of after the series ended. She decided that London life wasn’t for her, so she returned to her home town of Derry in Northern Ireland. Back in Ireland she set up her own chain of dance schools, and in 2008 she married a man called Kevin who she had been dating since her Pop Idol days. In 2009 she became the lead singer of a jazz band called The Fontelles who play “weddings, parties and all functions”. You can read more and check out some pics here.

8. Aaron Bayley (Website)

Elvis-loving Aaron wasn’t heard of much in the immediate years after Pop Idol, but he eventually released a single Guardian Angel and album of the same name in 2007. The song‘s actually quite pleasant. After that, like Laura, he wound up working as a wedding singer. He is the lead singer of the Aaron Bayley Band. He did release another single, however, as part of a group called G*Mania last year. They toured the UK in a Glee tribute musical, and other stars included Stacey from S Club 8, Kavana and Andy Scott Lee! The video‘s quite a treat for pop/reality TV nerds.

9. Jessica Garlick (Website)

Although Jessica didn’t get very far in the Pop Idol finals, she was remembered positively which helped her win the public vote to represent Eurovision in 2002. Her song Come Back was a classy pop ballad and gave us our best Euro result of the decade, coming joint third alongside ace Swedish singer Sahlene, who represented Estonia. She’s now married with a daughter, but did make a comeback attempt in 2009. She released a single with a hilarious cheap video, and hasn’t updated her website since.

10. Korben (Facebook)

Korben (real name Chris Niblett) made history in Pop Idol, as the first reality TV singer to come out as gay in the newspapers. He recorded some dance tracks soon after the show but had no success. He also made the local news in Bedford for drink-driving. At the time he said he was working for an “entertainments company” in Devon. Holiday camp, perhaps? He is now a make-up artist who has appeared on QVC and travels the world promoting Jemma Kidd’s Makeup Academy. He has a terrible new hair-do.