The Voice UK has 'found its feet'

The coaches at the live shows Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am is 'fun and naughty but not disobedient'

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The public will determine which of the four finalists of The Voice will be crowned winner this weekend.

The BBC, meanwhile, has already cast its vote on the show's future, commissioning two more series last week.

But it remains to be seen whether Kylie Minogue - the coach credited with an upturn in viewing figures for the third series - will be spinning around in 2015 after reports that she wants to focus on her music career.

Moira Ross, executive producer of The Voice from independent producers Wall to Wall, says she isn't looking beyond Saturday's final.

'I have just been concentrating on making the series and making it the best it can be,' she tells Ariel.

Viewers seem to approve, with audience numbers for the third series averaging 8.54m - up from 7.65m last year - and peaking at 9.41m in February.

Ross believes the singing competition has finally 'found its feet', with the new coaches a real boon.

Fab four

'Kylie has been a fantastic addition and it was a real coup for us to sign her,' she says.

'Alongside her, Ricky Wilson has been a brilliant new coach too, and with Sir Tom and will.i.am it really has been a fab four. The series has felt warmer and funnier, the acts have been better than ever and we've grown as a team.'

An apparent ease between the coaches - determinedly not judges - has also boosted the entertainment value.

The four superstars 'genuinely get on', reports Ross. 'They had so much fun during the pre-recorded and live shows, which has been evident on and off screen. I have never seen so much dancing off-camera. It was hard to keep them in their seats.'

Moira Ross Moira Ross: acts 'better than ever'

As well as dancing, of course, will.i.am continues to tweet, take selfies, even mildly swear during the live shows. Are his misdemeanours part of his charm?

'He is so enthusiastic about the show, I don't think he can help himself,' laughs Ross, adding that everyone has a soft spot for the 'fun and naughty but not disobedient' Black Eyed Pea.

Bonus blinds

Alongside personnel changes (new hosts Marvin Humes and Emma Willis also joined the programme), there have been changes to the format.

There were more of the popular blind auditions and a speedier subsequent route to the final via the battle and knockout rounds.

But this couldn't stem a leak of viewers after the blinds, when the singers rather than the coaches have to carry the show, with numbers stooping to 5.94m for last weekend's semi-final.

'It takes new shows time to settle and we tweak the format every year to keep it fresh and to respond to what our audiences say about the show,' says Ross.

The pre-recorded shows were made at MediaCity in Salford, before the production team took over the George Lucas Stage 1 at Elstree Studios - where the likes of Star Wars and Indiana Jones were made - for the three live extravaganzas.

'Fantastic' Elstree

The massive space has been turned into a professional tv studio by BBC Studios and Post Production, which has provided HD-capable production, sound and lighting galleries.

'Elstree offers fantastic facilities,' reckons Ross. 'The team moved here three weeks ago from our office base in North London and it has been seamless.'

As the final approaches, the exec producer praises the calibre of the contestants, who were either scouted or selected at casting auditions.

'The interest from the public to take part has increased each year and young people who weren't old enough to enter when we first started are now able to apply,' she says. 'Our final four this year are all brilliant and very different to each other, so I can't call it as to who will win.'

Whether Jamie Johnson, Christina Marie, Sally Barker or Jermain Jackman will become household names is even harder to predict, especially with the winners of series one and two failing to cut through in the industry.

This week, will.i.am blamed BBC politics for the programme's inability to produce a star, arguing that potential success is stymied by BBC rules around promoting commercial activity.

'Somebody winning that sings good and having a nice song, isn't enough. And we've seen it for three seasons. The politics have to be worked out and rules have to be bent for you to have a hit,' he said.

But Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson said any lack of success was linked to a lack of graft.

'They didn't see it through,' he said of the two previous winners. 'That sounds harsh, but it's not like you go straight to number one when you get a record deal. That's where the hard work starts.'

Ross steers clear of the debate, only saying that the talent has been 'first class'.

'We have every confidence in all of our singers,' she insists.

The Voice is produced for the BBC by Wall to Wall and Talpa Media. The live final is on Saturday at 7pm on BBC One.

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