New Zealand Idol crown - but they won't have to worry about harsh crit' />

The country's best wannabe singers will once again strut their stuff for the New Zealand Idol crown - but they won't have to worry about harsh criticism from Paul Ellis.

Idol 3 will hit TV screens in the second half of this year, Television New Zealand said yesterday, but without the grumpiest of its three judges, as Ellis has said he is not interested in a third season.

He is believed to have been approached by Prime's former chief executive, Chris Taylor, to work in marketing and communications for Channel Nine in Brisbane.

A TVNZ spokesman said judges and a presenter for Idol 3 would be worked out later.

"New Zealand Idol was a huge hit again last year," said the network's head of content, Stephen Smith.

"We're looking forward to an even more exciting season in 2006."

The show runs for four months and keeps hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders glued to their sets.

Meanwhile, the possible purchase of Prime by Sky is bad news for wannabe millionaires.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire will no longer take New Zealand-based contestants.

A Prime spokeswoman said: "This was originally a Channel Nine initiative and as Prime no longer has a relationship with Nine, it is not in their interests to continue down this path."

The Commerce Commission decision on whether the sale can go through is due next week.