It’s the end of an era for Idols SA after two judges that everyone loves to hate were voted off the show.
As the online auditions for Season 18 opened on Sunday, judges Randall Abrahams and Unathi Nkayi were told they are being replaced with fresh blood.
Idols SA dropped the bomb on Friday.
Veteran judge Randall, 52, known for his razor-sharp tongue, has been serving on the panel for 17 years while Unathi joined the Idols family 10 years ago.
Mzansi Magic says the decision is part of the channel revamping Idols SA Season 18 and the duo’s contracts will not be renewed.
In August last year, another long-serving judge, Somizi, was fired from Idols following allegations by his estranged husband Mohale Motaung of physical abuse.
Shirley Adonisi, channel director: local entertainment channels for the MultiChoice Group, said: “We are taking a fresh approach to the judging panel to retain audiences and stay competitive in the Sunday night timeslot.
“We salute these great icons of South African entertainment and thank them both for a great innings on Idols. We wish them well in their endeavours.”
Unathi took to social media on Saturday to thank Idols and contestants: “To every contestant who stood in front of us.
From the ones brave enough to share with us their hopes. I don’t take lightly the act of doing that for the world to see. An honour I will always hold.
To those who unleashed a new level of my tears, heavily pregnant with Baby Idols garnering for Wooden Mic, thank you for the laughter and joy.”
Randall said after 20 “amazing” years on the show, all he had was gratitude.
“I would like to thank everyone involved in Idols including the production company and the channel for the fantastic opportunity to be involved in Mzansi’s most successful television talent search.
“It has been an amazing two-decade run during which I've had the pleasure of experiencing performances by a host of extremely talented contestants.
“Most especially, I would like to thank the public for watching. I trust they’ve enjoyed every moment as much as I have.”
Idols Season 17 Top 5 finalist, Daylin Sass, says he was shocked to hear the news. He says Randall does not deserve his bad rep.
“Randall instilled pearls of wisdom in all of the contestants who came through him.
I remember I auditioned thrice and two of those times Randall said no and that’s because he believed I wasn’t ready.
“Sis U, she was the only judge, along with Somizi, who gave me yeses throughout my journey. She pushed me. She has been that guide for me.”
Season 13 winner Paxton Fielies agreed and said: “Idols are losing two star judges.
These people have mentored and guided most of the Idols finalist and helped mould winners. There are big shoes to fill, for whoever is replacing them.”
Current Idol Berenike Trytsman, aka Berry, says she’s excited to see new judges:
“It’s gonna be a game changer to see who they’re gonna bring. I wish Randall and Unathi all the best.”
The new judging panel has not yet been announced.