By LOUISA CLEAVE
The name Op' Stars might sound like that of another homegrown talent search, Popstars, but that's where any similarity ends.
This documentary takes us behind the scenes of the Mobil Song Quest, held in September, and follows the preparations of finalists leading up to the prestigious singing competition, which has been won by both Dames Kiri and Malvina.
Eight weeks out from the make-or-break night there are 12 semi-finalists to whittle down to six, and the programme - produced by Backch@t's Gordon Harcourt for the Gibson Group - follows a selection of the wannabe stars.
Among them is April-Marie Neho, 25, who we meet along with her proud dad in the family's Napier funeral business, and 20-year-old Andrew Conley, an unlikely looking opera singer standing on a basketball court shooting hoops.
Jared Holt, a previous finalist and second-place winner, is taking another crack at the title and the $25,000 prize. He is a hot favourite, along with Ana James, who is also making her third appearance in the quest.
Television shows like this can rely heavily on manufacturing drama, using techniques such as the "you're in, you're out" phone call.
Here, the sensitive news is delivered by competition organiser Diana Cable, who says: "You play with people's lives, and to a certain extent their aspirations, and we try to be as positive as is possible."
The finalists, highly talented performers who have been training and singing in church choirs and school productions since toddlers, can carry the programme on their own shoulders without any meddling from behind the camera.
There is no attempt to hide the opera singer's fragile ego or to encourage diva-like outbursts. When the curtain falls we know the men and women behind the voices - and wish they could all go home the winner.
Saturday, TV One, 9 pm
By LOUISA CLEAVE