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Pop Idol: The duo

POP IDOL runners-up SAM NIXON and MARK RHODES are teaming up like Nineties crooners ROBSON & JEROME.

The pin-up pair have been signed by Pop Idol’s creator SIMON FULLER.

They will release their first single, a cover of The Beatles’ classic With A Little Help From My Friends next month.

The track is expected to be released through Simon’s 19 Management company on February 9. The video is being shot this week.

The lads will sing it live on Top Of The Pops on Friday using the stage name Sam & Mark.

Last night Sam — who sang With A Little Help From My Friends on the Pop Idol Beatles tribute heat — told me: “We never expected this opportunity to come along.

“We’re both really grateful for all the support we have had. It’s going to be great fun.”

Mark, who was second to MICHELLE McMANUS in the final, said: “This is the best New Year present.

“To go into 2004 working together after becoming such good mates during the show is unbelievable.” Michelle joined in the praise, saying: “I’m delighted for the boys. They really deserve it.

“It’s lovely to know that we will be going through this together.”

Pop Idol guru Fuller had refused to sign any of the beaten finalists following Michelle’s crowning last month.

He was criticised for taking the spotlight away from WILL YOUNG by putting the likes of GARETH GATES, SARAH WHATMORE and ZOE BIRKETT on his books.

I think the decision for Sam and Mark to team up gives them a better chance of success than if they had opted for solo careers.

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