Thought Joseph and Donna McCaul won You're A Star this year? Well, they did. Sort of. The Westmeath sibling duo will be our entrants in the Eurovision semi-final on May 19. But judging by the dismissive reaction that's greeted them since their victory on Sunday night, their shelf-life looks very short indeed. The real winners of this highly popular series aren't th
Thought Joseph and Donna McCaul won You're A Star this year? Well, they did. Sort of. The Westmeath sibling duo will be our entrants in the Eurovision semi-final on May 19. But judging by the dismissive reaction that's greeted them since their victory on Sunday night, their shelf-life looks very short indeed. The real winners of this highly popular series aren't the fame-hungry contestants who have been foisted on our screens since 2003. A motley crew of self-serving judges, a production company well-honed in the art of making effective, but inexpensive, programming and - most of all - RTE are the ones who have benefited most from our lust for instant gratification, instantly forgettable television. WINNERS
* RTE: The three series have enjoyed consistently strong ratings with the final results show on Sunday pulling in 916,000 and a 62.5% share - the most impressive performance of any RTE programme in 2005 so far.
* SCREENTIME/SHINAWIL: The Dublin production company behind the You're A Star concept has earned a reputation in the business for making mass appeal television without spending a lot of money. The company would be most likely to be in the running for future RTE reality/audition TV programmes.
* RAY D'ARCY: The genial presenter has proved that he is just as comfortable in front of the television cameras as he is on his popular Today FM radio show - a feat that the much-lauded Ryan Tubridy has yet to emulate, judging by the poor reception to his TV show debut, Tubridy Tonight.
* DAVE FANNING: The veteran 2FM DJ who was an early supporter of U2 surprised the music purists when he agreed to be judge this year's competition. He finally got mass recognition as well as plenty of cash.
* GEORGE MURPHY: Last year's also-ran has proved to be a popular star on the cabaret circuit and looks far likelier to have the sort of staying power that previous - and initially more high-profile - contestants have so lacked.
* CHRIS DORAN: The charisma-free Waterford singer may have won last year's You're A Star, but a disastrous appearance at Eurovision meant his career bombed before it had taken off.
* MICKEY HARTE: The Donegal man won the first year's series and after a moderate performance at Eurovision he and his record company parted soon after. Ambitious plans to break the UK market have been put on hold as Harte concentrates instead on touring the rural circuit.
* SIMON CASEY: The amiable runner-up on the first year's competition scored a Brian McFadden-penned hit, although his ensuing album failed to ignite the charts.
Casey went on to become a popular figure on panto, although there have been few bona fide acting offers.
* LINDA MARTIN: The former Eurovision winner has lost her nicey-nice persona and has come across as bitter and angry.
Few people rate You're A Star III winners Joseph and Donna McCaul highly, but Martin has been especially scathing about what she called these "childish" singers.
* JOSEPH AND DONNA McCAUL: After winning the latest series of You're A Star at the weekend, the Westmeath brother-and-sister team have been lambasted by all quarters, except in their native Athlone where a signing session had to be cancelled over crowd control fears from the excitement-starved Midlanders.
Few expect them to make the Eurovision final proper.