Operación Triunfo is a highly successful Spanish TV show format that has been broadcast in over 50 countries with various titles. It is a pop music talent contest with viewer voting and reality show elements. In the UK it is called “Fame Academy”. In the majority of other countries it is called “Star Academy”.
Each country has its own slight variations, but the basic concept remains the same whereby contestants live in a boarding-school managed by a director and various teachers coach them in several artistic disciplines. The participants are filmed day and night. Once a week, the contestants have to face a prime time show, where they sing the song they’ve prepared during the week before, as well as recapping their trials and tribulations at The Academy from the past week. The live show will often feature special guest stars, with whom some of the contestants have the opportunity to sing. Based on the judges’ verdicts and viewer voting, the weakest contestant is dropped. The eventual winner is awarded a record deal and usually a significant amount of money.
The “Star Academy” concept belongs to the Spanish production company Gestmusic, a Spanish branch of Endemol who also own Big Brother. The first country to broadcast the format, however, was France on October 20, 2001. Two days later, “Operación Triunfo”, as the show is called in Spanish speaking countries, went on the air in Spain. Star Academy became the second most expanded reality show, just behind Big Brother, and reached markets as different as India, the Arab World and the United States, becoming the first Spanish TV format ever acquired by these countries. This show is similar to the “Idol Series” but different in that it also shows the contestants’ lives together in the house where they live. Star Academy is in essence a singing competition, where the lowest vote-receiver each week must leave the show, ending finally when only one person remains.