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Supermarket Stars: latest TV sensation

Written by: Hostile17 Published on: 02 Jan 2002

ITV’s recent line up of programmes that turn common people in to celebrities has been a ratings winner for the station–and it’s not about to end any time soon. First there was Popstars, a search to find five members of the public to form a new pop band. Then there was Soapstars, the aim being to find a family for ITV’s Emmerdale. The franchise was then taken to new levels with Dogstars, where the hunt was on to find a canine companion for the soap star family. The search for the dog had a dramatic finale when Kim Marsh was disqualified from the last round. The judges decided that the fact she’d already won Popstars was unfair on the other finalists, Golden Labrador Prince and Shitzu Sheba. The show reportedly drew in 25m visitors, a new high for ITV. To capitalise on this success, they soon announced the latest addition to the lineup: Supermarket Stars.

“It’s Popstars in reverse,” proclaimed LWT’s controller of entertainment Nigel Lythgoe. “Popstars, Soapstars and Dogstars focused on delivering members of the general public into the world of showbiz, and turning them in to celebrities. Supermarket Stars is the innovate addition to the line-up, and takes on a different role to its predecessors.”

Whereas the previous shows were open to the public, Supermarket Stars will only be open to people who have starred on TV or had a music career in the past. Its aim: to give a has-been celebrity a coveted job on a supermarket checkout.

“It really is an exciting opportunity for the lucky winner,” enthused Tesco chief executive Benjamin Eans. “The winner will be given a six-month trial contract with the UK’s leading supermarket, with the option of it being extended to a permanent contract afterthat time.”

The benefits by no means end there. The winner of the show will also get free uniforms, subsidised meals and 10% discount after a year’s work.

The impressive mix of benefits has already caught the notice of a lot of ex-celebs, and the turnout has been strong. A number of stars are rumoured to have entered at the first round including Vanessa Feltz, Adam Rickett, Anthea Turner, Julie Goodyear, Jason Donovan and a number of Big Brother stars. Victoria Beckham was also reportedly there, but was removed from the building after demanding that her autobiography must be on her till if she wins.

Viewers at home will soon get to see who turned up. The show will follow the audition process, as the judges rate the entrants on cleanliness, politeness, efficiency and ability to meet people with a smile. Auditions took place in London over a week, as they whittled the numbers down to ten finalists. Only one can go through, however, and win Supermarket Stars.

The television crew will follow the winner as the go through extensive training in preparation for their new role. The winner will be given checkout training from the very best in HR trainers, and they’ll get to watch a number of videos on customer care. These videos will also be on sale in stores after the show has finished, along with ‘every little helps’ badges.

“I have to say, in particular, the final episode will be very exciting,” said Lythgoe. “After we’ve seen the winner trained, we’ll go with them to their first day on the checkout. We don’t know what will happen on that day, or who will come. We may have an old woman with coupons and lots of small change one minute, and some dropped eggs the next. It’s an exciting unpredictable atmosphere. Viewers at home can then head for the store and be served by someone they’ve got to know on TV, it’s really quite unique. Plus we’re giving this wonderful opportunity to someone who really needs it, and that makes it very worthwhile indeed.”

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