Idols judge from left Randall Abrahams, Unathi Msenagan, Gareth Cliff.

The eighth season of the hit reality series Idols heads to the shark tank for Sunday night’s episode, with the Idols judges auditioning from Durban’s star hopefuls at the uShaka Marine World aquarium.

For the first time, contestants were filmed with the aquarium’s large shark tank in the background.

Lani Lombard, M-Net’s communications head, said the location for each city was carefully chosen.

In Cape Town, auditions were held at Grand-West casino.


“The ominous shark tank at uShaka Marine World is possibly one of the most original backgrounds used in an Idols series,” she said.

Among KwaZulu-Natal’s hopefuls are a professional beach soccer player, a Miss SA finalist and a spiritual healer.

Besides the singing, other things to look forward to in the episode on Sunday night include: judges Gareth Cliff falling in love with Jabulani the fur seal, Unathi Msengana being pecked by an angry penguin and Randall Abrahams frightening the sharks.

Abrahams told Weekend Argus that the judging panel was as tough as always.


“In terms of the judging criteria, very little has changed in our overall approach. We do our best to recognise the most promising talent, and then provide an opportunity for the public to make their choice.”

But what really hasn’t changed is the chance for viewers to get a taste of the country’s amazing and diverse talent.


“Talent changes as local and international music trends develop, and by introducing instruments the show also attracted another segment of talent,” Abrahams said.

The Western Cape has produced past winners such as Karin Kortjé and Elvis Blue, but Abrahams believes other regions also have plenty to offer.

“There is a tradition of singing and performance that has always been prevalent in Cape Town. It’s a very musical city. But other regions also bring their special ingredient – the cool bustle of Joburg, or the Zulu singing traditions of Durban, for example.”


Asked if he sees more success from Cape Town, he replied: “It’s still a long road. We shall have to wait and see.”

He added that at this early stage it was hard to say which city was doing best.


He is known to be a difficult judge to impress, so don’t expect a softer Abrahams this year. “I place high standards on the talent each year. This year won’t be any different.”

He said to expect shocks, surprises, crazy moments and amazing performances from Sunday night’s episode.

* Idols screens at 5.30pm on M-Net (DStv channel 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 107). The Cape Town auditions, which took place earlier this year, will screen next week.

Updates and further information can be found on the official Idols Facebook page at “Idols South Africa”, on Twitter @IdolsSA and on the official Idols season 8 website at

Idols Extra is also screening audition footage and is available on DStv channel 199 and DStv Mobile.

[email protected]

Weekend Argus