The Voice singing contest show goes back to basics

The Voice The premise of The Voice UK is the focus is on their contestant's voice, rather than what they look like

In recent years TV talent shows have dominated prime time television in various formats, but the BBC says its new offering The Voice UK will offer a completely new approach.

The series, which starts on 24 March, features Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J, and The Script's Danny O'Donoghue as coaches to the contestants.

Producers are keen to emphasise they are coaches and not judges "unlike other shows".

The premise of the series, which has already been successful in the US, is to find a pop star based solely on their singing voice.

At the end of the 11-week process, the winner is given a record deal with Universal.

'No preconceived image'

"When I first came to London in '63, and tried to get a record contract, they said that I looked too macho," says Sir Tom.

"So they were looking at me before they were listening to me, that hasn't really changed, and I don't agree with it."

The 71-year-old explains it was for exactly that reason, that he decided to sign up to the show.

"That's why The Voice is very important because there's no preconceived image. There's a lot of people out there and a lot of different kinds of music that needs to be made."

Although Jessie J - known for her well cut glossy haircut and striking all-in-one cat suits - says image is still important in the music industry.

"I always want to look nice because I'm a female who wants to look nice, but there are days when I don't want to be judged on that," she says.

Start Quote

We're all competitive underneath it all and some of us were throwing our toys out of the pram to get certain people on our team”

End Quote Danny O'Donoghue

"I want to be defined by my voice and my music. I think that's what the show is about and that's what it should be about. But I think image is important."

"But what the show's saying is that the voice is the first thing and then everything else stems from that."

The series, which is being presented by Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates, is divided into three stages.

The first part of the series consists of "blind" auditions, where each contestant performs on stage in a bid to be chosen to join a coach's team.

The twist is that the four coaches have their backs to the performers and only get to see what they look like once they hit a buzzer, indicating they want that singer on their team.

If more than one coach hits their button, then the performer gets to choose who they will work with.

"We're all competitive underneath it all and some of us were throwing our toys out of the pram to get certain people on our team," says O'Donoghue.

Danny O'Donoghue, Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J and Danny O'Donoghue, Sir Tom Jones, Jessie J and will act as coaches instead of judges

"But that's the competitive spirit, it definitely shows up in our character traits."

The second stage sees the coaches pit two of their own acts against each other to sing a competitive duet in front of a studio audience and the final round is the live show, where each contestant fights to remain part of the process.

'More credibility'

Producers are keen to highlight that because the coaches are unable to judge the singer on their appearance, it means everyone gets a fairer chance.

Sir Tom says the show has more credibility than other singing programmes, because the judging panel is made up of four successful singers.

"We've been through it, we know what it's like to get up and perform, unlike some judges on some other shows that just don't know, they've never done it. The ones that have are not very good anyway," he says.

Start Quote

I went in with a blank canvas so my mind could be open to the spectrum of artists who are here in the UK”

End Quote

It is the role of the coaches to nurture the singers on their team, before eventually selecting five to go through to the live shows, where the public can vote.

All four stars are confident that with the onus being on the quality of the voice, the winner is sure to be extremely talented, although none of them knew what they were looking for to begin with.

"I went in with a blank canvas so my mind could be open to the spectrum of artists who are here in the UK," explains.

Sir Tom says he was looking for "someone who can spark the radio up" and O'Donoghue says he was after "someone who has a unique, signature thumbprint".

But the show offers up the same stories that have been seen before.

Contestants speak of how badly they want the chance to win and how hard they have worked for it.

Family members grit their teeth with anticipation backstage and there are plenty of tears as each contestant learns whether they are through to the next stage.

But, it is the banter among the four coaches that will, no doubt, be the main talking point of the show.

Name dropping, record sale comparisons and personal achievements are all used against one another in a bid for the artist to secure the contestant they want on their team.

But off-camera insists they are one big happy family.

"I like being around every single one of them," he says.

The 36-year-old, who found fame with the Black Eyed Peas, describes O'Donoghue as being obsessed with music, who will "quite literally write a song about anything", and he expresses excitement at being able to namedrop Sir Tom to his friend Cee Lo Green.

"As for Jessie, well I travel a lot. I get tired and I'm drained, and I'm around Jessie for like two seconds and she's like a real pick-me-up, a thousand volts of electricity."

The Voice begins on BBC One on 24 March. The time is yet to be confirmed.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Complete pish

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Yet more dross from the BBC! Almost as bad as let's dance for sport relief. Who wants more of this mindless junk further indoctrinateing children in to the desire to be famous. Come on BBC you can do better!

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    After being told that the BBC doesn't have the money to fund quality drama such as Waking the Dead, Zen and others its incredible they still manage to find the cash for this. Do we really need another X factor in the UK? Please BBC leave the rubbish, low common denominator stuff to ITV.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    The 'find me a star' format has a massive problem, after discovery, 90% of their output is covers.

    What they need to find is songwriters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    I appreciate the idea, but a very important factor hasn't been explained to us we hear their sob story, and if so when? To be true to the concept, sob stories should only be revealed after the contestant has sung. It's not just image that gets lesser-talented people through on "other shows", but their sob story too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    How staggeringly boring!

    Cheap radio on TV!

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I've got an idea!
    How about a talent show that looks for the next generation of talent show judges, assessing inanity, cliche spouting, paparazzability, plastic surgery potential, superficiality etc.
    The final four could then be the judging panel on series 2.
    We could call it "Quick Turn Off The Telly Before What Remains Of Your Brain Completely Liquifies And Starts To Leak Out Of Your Ear".

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Why not get them all singing as they refurbish the Old Vic, sing while they hunt for cash & bargains in the Vic’s attic where the winner gets to sing in their own room after singing and cooking a meal with celebrities in harmony while preparing the veg. That should get a load of old dross into a one hour program and leave time for professional programmers to come up with real entertainment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    How long before we get a reality TV show about which new reality TV show should be commissioned?

    Voted for by you! The Licence-paying public.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Love them or hate them (and I'm not a fan) these types of shows have been hugely successful over the years. But with the X-Factor in trouble (flatlining ratings, endless judging panel changes and tinkering with the format), The Voice better have something new to bring to the mix; certainly the judging panel line-up will help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    I hate to say it but this will get very high viewing figures.
    People of all ages seem all too happy to lap as much of this turgid, derivative nonsense up as is slopped onto their plate.
    I will not watch it just as I will not be buying any celebrity magazines or joining any discussions on who is going to 'win' Big Brother.
    I'd sooner be lobotomised. In fact the idea seems increasingly attractive

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Surely, with the public funds available to them the BBC can come up with something original, entertaining and watchable for the masses? But no, more of this copycat American drivel........

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    @33. Leodisthefirst

    Have you ever watched 'Newswatch'. One viewing will be sufficient to demonstrate clearly that the BBC isn't interested in either viewer democracy or viewer opinion. They get masses of complaints and all they do is sit there saying that their covergage was faultless and that they're entirely satisfied.....etc, etc, etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    More dumbed down TV 'judging' shows. Stop trying to copy XFactor, you can't make money from phone/text-ins.
    Especially when it means no more live F1 or live football, or no decent comedies like Blackadder or Fawlty Towers on the BBC.
    £20million just for the rights, plus the 'stars' salaries when it would be cheaper and more interesting if Kermit, Statler, Miss Piggy and Beaker were the judges!

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    I went to xfactor and Voice auditions. The voice is about the singing. X-factor is about making Simon Cowell richer, and giving you the chance to laugh at someone's expense.

    Whilst there may well be too many talent shows on t.v. very few of the want actual talent. The voice does, and you'll see the difference when the show starts....

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.


    "...Yet another reason to be thankful I no longer have a television..."


    Indeed. Also, you can't get away from the damn things when you go to the average pub these days, so why have one in the house too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Can't we put all these talent shows, dancing, skating "stars" etc on to a new channel where I won't have to watch them? Is this the best the BBC can come up with, cribbed from the USA (not the best source for intelligent TV). Come on BBC, spend my Licence fee in a better way than this. Most of the young fools who enjoy this stuff don't even pay the fee - what about us adults who do?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    And the person completely fed up with talent shows and their feeble attempt to drum up some tension is .............................

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Anyway, why isn't Cheryl Cole on the panel? It's a disgrace. Or the great Welsh soprano Catherine Jenkinson?

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Can the show find a pop star based solely on their singing voice? NO!
    It will be a karaoke contest, same as all the rest.


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