The first winner of Cellcard Star, Cambodia’s first real-time reality show was crowned Sunday in front of hundreds of fans and thousands of viewers at Chenla Theater in Phnom Penh.
But 22-year-old singer Noev Ratanak of Prey Veng showed himself to be a humble winner, stating before the results were announced that both he and runner-up Nheim Sokhontear, were winners and that there was no competition between them.
As the victor he will receive $2,500 and six appearances on CTN, but Mr Neow Ratanak said he was just happy to have been a part of the show and now hopes he can make a career as a singer.
“People are getting to know my face through this program, so I hope they will ask me to sing for them if they have special ceremonies,” he said, though he has yet to receive any offers.
Broadcast five hours every day, the show’s popularity has grown week by week as the audience got to know the contestants better, executive producer Matthew Robinson said. The first results show, held at The Rock in Phnom Penh, was attended by about 80 people, he said, but by the end of the season people had to be turned away because the venue was too crowded.
Since the start of the program, a total of 165,000 votes have been registered, and a record 16,000 viewers voted April 5 when contestant Sorn Kayurdy from Kratie province was voted off the show, Mr Robinson said.
The production team is now making plans for a new season starting sometime in July with auditions starting sometime next week. A few changes will be made to the original format to make it more interesting, but the setup will be roughly the same, Mr Robinson said.
“We are looking for six boys and six girls, from all ages…and all over Cambodia. The most important thing is that they are able to sing,” he said, adding that the new features will include a chance for viewers to speak with contestants on live TV and viewers could also expect a more diverse song list.
“Instead of classic Khmer music we might add in more Western-style songs to push the contestants,” Mr Robinson said.
In second place, Nheim Sokunthear, 24, of Kampot province, said the program has changed a lot in her life. Before the show she worked in a garment factory and never thought she could be a singer because she felt she was too short. Her second place finish will give her $1,000 and at least four appearances on CTN, but with the show over she is not sure what she will do.
“No production company has contacted me to sing yet, but I hope that will happen one day,” she said.