American Idol

, the TV creation of British producer Simon Fuller, begins its 15th and final season this week with bosses promising an "amazing" send-off.

The US singing contest, which debuted in 2002, premieres for the last time in New Zealand tomorrow night. Based on Fuller's 2001-03 ITV hit series Pop Idol, it was the top-rated show on US television for eight consecutive seasons from 2003 to 2011.

Fox Network finally pulled the plug in 2015 when the show fell to a series-low average of 11.6 million viewers. Idol reached a high point in 2006 with an average of nearly 36 million viewers watching Taylor Hicks win. Executive producer Trish Kihane said the series will get a send-off worthy of a television landmark.


"It's that tricky thing of, 'Hey, it's the 15th season, let's do nostalgia, let's look back at the show's really rich history'," Kihane said.

"But on the other hand, you've got to find an amazing American Idol. So we're trying to combine both of those things." The show made stars of winners, notably Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and proved a launching pad for the likes of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert.

However, some industry watchers contend the biggest star Idol made was X Factor boss Simon Cowell.

The series became such an impressive promotional platform that established artists including Steven Tyler, Mariah Carey and Prince dropped in as panellists, mentors and performers.

The current line-up sees artists Harry Connick Jr, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban return for their third year together as Idol bows out.


TV preview


American Idol

, the final season

When and where: Starts Prime, Tomorrow and Friday 9.30pm