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EXCLUSIVE: Deep within Melbourne’s isolation trenches, former Australian Idol judge Mark Holden has lauched a genius new project

Mark Holden is back with another ‘touchdown’ – this time in the form of a podcast alongside his beloved daughter Katie
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Locked down in Melbourne, former Australian Idol judge Mark Holden is reliving his “touchdown” glory days through a new podcast recorded with his much-loved daughter Katie.

The dynamic duo may be oceans apart – with Katie, 25, living and working in LA – but co-creating The Idol Archives has helped take their minds off the distance created by the COVID-19 pandemic and instead, kept them close together.

“We talk most days anyway,” says ’70s pop sensation Mark, now a late-blooming barrister at 66.

“This just gives us something fun to chat about other than, ‘What are you eating tonight?’ We do talk about nothing a lot, so this has been a really joyful change.”

In the first series of the podcast, the father-daughter double act catch up with 10 Idol alumni to relive their talent quest journey and reveal some behind-the-scenes secrets.

On air for seven years from 2003 to 2009, the top-rating show launched the careers of Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Anthony Callea, Ricki-Lee Coulter, Casey Donovan and Shannon Noll – to name just a few.

Some of the stories are eye-popping, others sad.

Rebellious Axle Whitehead sabotaged his own career by doing something stupid before the ARIA Awards in 2006 and teen hopeful Ben McKenzie got bashed by strangers on the street the night before he sang to three million people.

Mark and Katie at the Australian Idol finale in 2005.


“Man, that was heavy. I didn’t ever know that, and it was really moving,” sighs Mark, who has fought and won his own battles with thyroid cancer, severe osteoporosis and detached retinas.

“It was good to speak to all these Idols again and hear about their families, their challenges and their successes… they’re all still making beautiful music, which is fantastic.

“Each of them was really keen to unload in a way, I think. Natalie Gauci gave us an insight into singing on both Idol and The Voice – and she didn’t enjoy The Voice experience, where she was paired with Guy as her coach.”

“That was probably one of the most controversial things we recorded, although we weren’t looking for controversy.”

That might surprise anyone who watched Mark’s bizarre Bobo the Clown routine on Dancing With The Stars, which – together with his “Vlad 100 per cent Putin shirt-off moment” – polarised viewers back in 2014.

Katie says her dad is “goofy”, but admits she’s the same.


Katie, who works in drama development at Disney’s 20th Television, laughs when asked if it was embarrassing being Mark Holden’s daughter.

“It was good, what else can I say? It was always interesting,” she says. “But it was so much fun, going to events and red carpets with Dad. I met Zac Efron when I was 13, which was the biggest moment ever because he was my all-time crush.

“Dad was always the goofy judge, making fun of himself, but I’m a goofy person too, so it didn’t bother me. Bobo, though, was a big drama.”

“I do think DWTS was kind of embarrassing but in the most hilarious way. People took it way too seriously and thought Dad was literally crazy, that was the funny part. We should pull up his Bobo clip and watch it again. No wait, they took it offline because it was damaging the brand!”

With his fellow Idol judges, Ian Dickson, Marcia Hines and Kyle Sandilands.

(Network Ten)

Ruefully, Mark, who is also father to son Cane, 46, admits that Anna, his wife of “29 years or something” was not amused.

“Although I’ve been lucky because she’s been very understanding and a fantastic mother for Katie, who is a beautiful blend of both of us, and then her own person on top of that. We love being involved in each other’s lives,” says the former singer songwriter who on top of his TV career, has also penned and produced hits for artists as diverse as The Temptations, Donny Osmond, Belinda Carlisle and his close friend David “The Hoff” Hasselhoff.

And for Mark, sharing an industry he loves with his daughter is incredibly special.

“I’ve really enjoyed sharing all these things with Katie,” he says. “I’ve only resurfaced for this podcast because it’s given us something to do together that’s fun. I don’t need or want to perform any more.”

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