Former Pop Idol co-hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly have broken their silence following the death of Darius Campbell Danesh, remembering "many laughs" with the Scottish singer.
The TV presenting duo paid tribute to the 41-year-old, who finished third behind winner Will Young, 43, and Gareth Gates, 38, in the first Pop Idol series on ITV in 2002.
Darius also appeared on an episode of their Ant and Dec's entertainment show Saturday Night Takeaway.
His tragic death was announced by his family on Tuesday after the songwriter and theatre star was found unresponsive in his US apartment on August 11.
On Wednesday, Ant and Dec, both 46, tweeted: "We are very sorry to hear of the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh at such a tragically young age.
"We had many laughs with him on his Pop Idol journey. Our hearts go out to his lovely family. #RIP", with a praying hands emoji.
Darius began his rise to fame on the short-lived ITV music talent show Popstars in 2001, when he was known as Darius Danesh, before reaching greater heights on Pop Idol.
His debut single, Colourblind, went straight to number one and was the first of five UK top 10 hits across two albums.
Ant and Dec joined a number of other names associated with Pop Idol and other celebrities to pay emotional tributes to the Glasgow-born star, who also forged a successful stage career.
Former show judge and record producer Pete Waterman, 75, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that his friend Darius "could have gone on to be bigger than Michael Buble because he’d got that talent", adding he was a "lovely person" and a "gentleman".
Fellow ex-judge, music mogul Simon Cowell, 62, described Darius as “charismatic, funny and just a great person to be with."
In a statement given to PA, he added: "His passing, for someone so young, is an absolute tragedy and my heart goes out to his family and friends."
Pop Idol runner-up Gareth said he was "heartbroken" at the news.
He said: "Darius took me under his wing during our time in Pop Idol, like a big brother; always looking out for me and for that I thank you my friend.
"He was one of the most beautiful, intelligent and gentle souls I was lucky enough to know, a soul that lit up every room."
Nicki Chapman, another former Pop Idol judge, paid tribute by saying: “There will only ever be one Darius Campbell Danesh. A true gent with a kind soul & mischievous tinkle in his eye."
After Pop Idol, Darius turned down Simon Cowell’s offer of a record deal and signed with U2 and the Rolling Stones producer Steve Lillywhite, 67.
Darius later made a name for himself on the stage, appearing in Chicago as Billy Flynn in two runs of the production, as well as Guys And Dolls, Gone With The Wind and more in the West End.
He also won the first series of ITV’s Popstar To Operastar talent contest in 2010, before landing a major role in a new production of Carmen at London’s O2 Arena.
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