By ALAN PERROTT



World Idol II and a head-to-head encounter with infamous judge Simon Cowell lies ahead for NZ Idol Ben Lummis.



Eleven champions took part in the first world contest, which was broadcast live last Christmas Day and New Year's Day.



Each country also provided one judge for the panel.

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Norway's Kurt Nilsen, known as "the hobbit", surprisingly became the first World Idol, relegating highly regarded American Kelly Clarkson to second and Englishman Will Young to fifth. Australia's Guy Sebastian came seventh.



The Simon Fuller-inspired international franchise has now sprouted 28 branches ranging from Slovakia to Singapore, with more series set to begin in Hungary, Bulgaria, India and China.



While World Idol II has yet to be confirmed, 15 Idols, including Lummis, have already become eligible to compete.



His probable opponents so far include:



Jonatan Cerrada, France: An 18-year-old from Belgium who 10 years ago was a chorus singer and soloist with the Royal Opera of Wallonia.



Elli Erl, Germany: A 24-year-old who wowed her country with her take on Kim Carnes' Bette Davis Eyes but has work to do to repair the national shame wrought by her highkicking predecessor, Alexander Klaws, whose version of Maniac was lambasted by even his German fans.



Aleksey Goman, Russia: Performs in his own language. This was Russia's first national Idol series following a previous effort held in 748 high-security prisons that offered a recording contract and freedom.



Karl Bjarni Gudmundsson, Iceland: Hailing from Grindavik in the southwest, the 28-year-old went to number one in his country with his sparkling Lag Jons Og Stefans. During Idol he performed such chestnuts as Greased Lightning and How Deep Is Your Love.



Almas Kishkenbayev, Kazakhstan: This teenager claimed her title on the back of hits such as Everything I Do (I Do For You) and Enrique Iglesias' Love to See You Cry. She is touted as a star to watch by the Kazakhstan News Bulletin.



Michelle McManus, Britain: A 23-year-old singer and former hotel events manager from Scotland. Her first single topped the English chart, but the follow-up foundered at 16. One critic said Michelle "ploughs along as if she has swapped her microphone for a loudhailer".



Cveta Majtanovic, Serbia and Montenegro: An 18-year-old student from northern Serbia who celebrated her birthday by beating a 15-year-old girl to her country's first Idol title. Her favourite book is Anna Karenina, but she wants to live in Hollywood.



Christian Mendoza, Denmark: Failed to attract much attention after winning the series. His single Mystery to Me peaked at No 5 on the Danish chart.



Nuno Norte, Portugal: A 26-year-old divorced father of one who considered himself more of a guitarist. The judges said his voice was unconvincing, but was different and likeable.



Hanna Pakarinen, Finland: A 22-year-old who quit her job as a forklift driver the day after winning. Current single Love is Like a Song was No 1 in Finland throughout March.



Anke Pietrangeli, South Africa: Idoldom earned the 20-year-old "Kimberley Diamond" a recording and management contract, new car, microphone, clothes and the freedom of Gold Reef City for one year. Anke is a 2nd dan karate black belt and is studying for a sports management diploma.



Ruben Studdard, United States: Southern "Velvet Teddy Bear" who beat Clay Aiken to the American Idol II title but is lagging in record sales. The 25-year-old's first single earned a Grammy nomination and a new Ford Thunderbird for his mother.



Boris Titulaer, The Netherlands: A 23-year-old who won 61 per cent of the popular vote and was never voted into the bottom three. The Dutch jury declared him the King of Soul.



Krzysztof Zalewski, Poland: The 19-year-old frontman for his Iron Maiden-inspired heavy metal band Zalef. The high school music student began singing only because his group needed a vocalist to enter Idol.