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Hundreds turn out for "Popstars" auditions

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Hundreds of hopefuls have turned up to the first open audition for ITV's Popstars sequel -- Popstars: The Rivals -- this morning.

Many queued overnight and waited in the rain outside the London's Wembley Conference Centre to be seen by the judging panel, which includes Geri Halliwell, Pete Waterman and Louis Walsh.

To cope with the massive demand of the first series, which saw many turned away due to time constraints, producers invited selected applicants to regional auditions this time round. Since the programme's launch last week, however, they have been inundated with callers who missed the deadline and want a chance to audition. In response, two open auditions were added; one today, and the other next Friday at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester.

"We’ve had so many calls from people since we launched the show with Davina and the judges, that after consultation with Geri, Louis and Pete, we’ve decided to hold these open auditions," explained Nicholas Steinberg, series producer. "It’s our job to find the most talented boys and girls in the country, so by holding these extra auditions in both London and Manchester – we’re giving the people who missed the phonelines a second chance to fulfil their dreams."

Among those at the front of the queue this morning was 20-year-old Catherine Hayes from Tunbridge Wells, Kent. "I got to the last 130 in Popstars and failed in the dancing," she told BBC News. "I have really worked hard to change my image and I spend about £300 a month on dance lessons."

Popstars presenter Davina McCall was reportedly offering sympathy to those who were ejected from the queue for not looking the part. She told them: "It might be because of your look but unfortunately it is the business we are in. I would love to judge you, but I know nothing - but I can give you a big hug if that makes you feel better."

Popstars: The Rivals begins on ITV next month.

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