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18/07/2018    

18/07

The Voice UK

The Voice UK is a British television talent show created by John de Mol and based on the concept The Voice of Holland. It began airing on BBC One on 24 March 2012. There are five different stages to the show: producers' auditions, blind auditions, battle phase, knockouts, and live shows. The winner receives £100,000 and a record deal with Republic Records. There have been seven winners to date: Leanne Mitchell, Andrea Begley, Jermain Jackman, Stevie McCrorie, Kevin Simm, Mo Adeniran and Ruti Olajugbagbe.

The show involves artists drawn from public auditions, and is part of The Voice franchise. It is produced by ITV Studios as well as Dutch production company Talpa Productions, and formerly Wall to Wall during its time on the BBC.

The BBC won a "bidding war" with ITV, paying £22 million for the rights to broadcast the show in the UK for two years. ITV's Britain's Got Talent launched its sixth series on the same date of 24 March 2012. Many media outlets saw this move as a deliberate attempt by ITV to create a "TV ratings war" with the BBC.

In November 2015, the BBC announced that the fifth series of The Voice UK would be their last. That same month, ITV announced they had acquired the rights to air The Voice UK for three additional series, as well as plans for two series of The Voice Kids starting in 2017.

History

The Voice first came to the public eye when the BBC revealed that it was exploring the possibility of acquiring the rights. However, ITV was also interested as it was concerned that The X Factor could lose ratings after Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue left the panel. ITV were said to be afraid that the show with would "upstage" theirs. It was reported by The Sun that BBC and ITV were in a "bidding war" for The Voice UK. The Sun's Colin Robertson and Leigh Holmwood stated that ITV were "nervous", "fearing" that The Voice UK could "undermine" the X Factor. The Sun had previously reported that the BBC were "close" to getting The Voice, as well as saying that "ITV executives had originally told X Factor top brass they weren't interested in picking up the rights." However, "now they have told owners of The Voice format they ARE interested." A source said, " The X Factor has had a bit of a rollercoaster ride already this year and ITV fear any rival new show could blow it out of the water. The hype around The Voice is now so great that ITV feels it has no choice but to be in the running for it. If the BBC got it--and managed to sign Cheryl--then it could snare loads of viewers away from The X Factor." ITV were planning to have The Voice UK as "'companion show'" for The X Factor.

On 18 June 2011, it was reported that the BBC had won the rights to The Voice UK. In mid-2011 it was revealed that BBC would be broadcasting The Voice after paying £22 million. Danny Cohen, the controller of BBC One, said he wants the programme to emulate the success of The Apprentice and defended his decision to invest in it. Cohen said, "I thought it was really good. Every so often the BBC occasionally buys something from abroad that is peerlessly good, like The Apprentice. We adapted that for Britain with Alan Sugar and made the British version the best in the world. We hope The Voice will do similarly. We shouldn't shut the door on anything."

It was later revealed that The Voice would not be going head-to-head with The X Factor as Strictly Come Dancing is broadcast at the end of the year. Channel 4 had entered the bidding war with the BBC and ITV, but later pulled out after the channel's director called the show "derivative" and "a rip-off". It was said that the BBC was keen to sign up a new singing-talent show after it dropped Fame Academy in 2004 and had not revisited the genre. It was also eager to schedule a replacement for So You Think You Can Dance, which was dropped in 2011. Presenter Holly Willoughby also stated that The Voice UK is a "feel good show" saying, "The difference [with The Voice] is it's a blind audition, the coaches can't see the contestants when they come on stage so they judge them purely on their voice and their voice alone. It's really feel-good and the coaches are incredible."

Devised by John de Mol, the creator of Big Brother, The Voice is based on the Dutch TV programme The Voice of Holland and is part of The Voice franchise, being based on the similar US format. The BBC were "desperate" to get The Voice UK after they axed So You Think You Can Dance.

According to Anita Singh from The Daily Telegraph, the BBC have spent £22 million on buying the rights to the show, which will last two years. Of the amount of money spent on it, a BBC spokesperson said, "There is an awful lot of pressure, given the money spent on the format, for the ratings to be good. But at the moment all signs are that it will be cash well spent." Singh stated however, that this contradicted a "pledge" made by Mark Thompson, the director-general. He said, "The BBC needs to make a further significant shift towards distinctiveness, spending more of the licence fee on output which, without the BBC, wouldn't get made at all." The ITV reportedly "offered more for the format but were turned down". After comparisons to the X Factor were made, Cohen defended the decision to gain the rights to the show saying, "We feel that there's enough difference in this format that it will stand out. The fact that ITV tried very hard to get it--even though they've got The X Factor--suggests that they feel this show is different enough [from that one]."

In October 2011, it was announced that Moira Ross executive producer of Strictly Come Dancing quit the show to join production company Wall to Wall, so that she could take the position of executive producer of The Voice UK.

The BBC were planning to make each performance on the show available for download each week, with the proceeds going to charity or the downloads being free, before it is then released commercially. The winner will receive £100,000, as well as a record deal with Universal Republic.

On 24 May 2013, it was reported that BBC One was close to recommissioning the show for a third series in 2014. The next day, it was confirmed that it will return for a third series. In July 2013, Jessie J and Danny O'Donoghue confirmed they would not be able to return as coaches for series 3 due to their music careers and touring. In September, Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates announced they would not be returning as co-presenters for series 3. It was confirmed the same month that Kylie Minogue and Ricky Wilson would replace Jessie J and O'Donoghue. It was announced that Emma Willis and Marvin Humes would replace Willoughby and Yates as co-presenters for the third series. On 29 March 2014, the BBC confirmed the series would be returning for another two series. In April, Minogue confirmed that she would not return for the fourth series, due to clashes with her Kiss Me Once Tour. On 22 September, it was confirmed that Rita Ora would replace Minogue.

In June 2015, it was announced Ora would be joining the twelfth series of The X Factor. In August 2015, it was announced that Paloma Faith would replace Ora, with Boy George replacing original coach Jones, who was let go and would not be involved in the fifth series' production.

On 7 November 2015, it was announced that the fifth series of The Voice UK would be the last to air on BBC. On 23 November 2015, ITV announced they had acquired the rights to air The Voice UK for three additional series, set to begin airing in 2017. They also announced their plans to produce two additional series, The Voice Kids and an untitled ITV2 spin-off, both also set to air in 2017. The last episode aired on the BBC on 9 April 2016. The ITV2 spin-off show was axed on 8 August 2016, but it could return in the future.

Scheduling

After speculation in February, the show's air date was confirmed on 10 March 2012. Of this announcement, the show's Twitter account said, "Two weeks from now, something new will be on your television, something so great you'll want to run up and kiss the screen. Just FYI." Britain's Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon confirmed the launch date for the Britain's Got Talent, with it being the same day as The Voice UK's. Britain's Got Talent was brought forward by ITV, so it could clash with the show. Of this move a BBC source said, "This is typical of ITV, parking their tanks on our lawn just as we launch a major new format. They are smarting because they didn't get the show although they bid £10 million more than us." However an ITV source responded saying, "We haven't declared our launch date but, if I was a betting man, I'd go for March 24. The BBC know we always launch BGT around this time. If anyone is parking tanks on a lawn, it's them on ours!" For the past four years however, Britain's Got Talent had launched in mid-April. The BBC and ITV were reportedly in a "scheduling war". BBC moved the show from its supposed 7:15 slot to 7:00, to avoid "significant overlap". ITV then responded by moving Britain's Got Talent from its original slot at 7:45 to 7:30. A BBC source said, "It is disappointing they chose to launch Britain's Got Talent on the same day as us. To not even meet us halfway on avoiding any sort of overlap is incredibly competitive."

As The Voice progressed, it became clear that audiences were staying loyal during the period when it clashed with Britain's Got Talent. After the third Blind Auditions round, when the BBC programme enjoyed a viewership margin of some four million, Simon Cowell and ITV executives moved their show to a later start time.

In an exclusive interview with Digital Spy, Cowell stated that the show is "competition" for Britain's Got Talent. He said, "I recognise [The Voice] as a challenge. The BBC must be confident because they have put it up against this show. They want to make a competition out of it. So we've got to make [Britain's Got Talent] better. Everyone benefits because of that." However, presenter Reggie Yates denied this: "I don't know if this is about toppling anyone. This is a very different animal altogether. I think when you see what this show is all about, you'll see exactly where we are coming from."

In 2013, the shows clashed again, this time with BGT starting in its usual mid-April Slot. Both shows went directly head to head with The Voice from 6.45-8.15 and BGT from 7-8.35. With BGT winning the war, The Voice moved to a later slot and for the rest of the run, only clashed with BGT for 10-15 minutes each week.

In 2016, the shows clashed again. The Voice's BBC finale was moved back a week due to a Six Nations game which meant it clashed with the BGT launch. The Voice aired from 7-9 with BGT from 7-8.25. Whilst original schedules had The Voice from 6-8 and BGT from 8-9.20, the shows both changed to a 7.00 start time.

Promotion

The first promotional item the BBC released was a video on the official website. It read, "Four of the biggest names in music are looking for incredible singing talent to compete for the title of The Voice UK. Only the most unique and distinctive voices will make it to the filmed auditions and get to sing for our celebrity coaches". To promote the show, all four coaches went to Central London launch event, which took place at Soho Hotel on 24 February 2012. Daily Mirror's Jo Usmar commented on the promotion of the show, stating that the trailer will "get you juices flowing". A further trailer was released on 9 March, featuring footage from the show, "including interviews with the panel, a first look at some contestants and bickering between the coaches".

Social media

According to Digital Spy, the BBC was trying to "boost audience participation with a wealth of social media and online activity, as viewers often watch programmes while also commenting and engaging via Twitter and Facebook on a smartphone, laptop or tablet". Telegraph Hill, having previously worked on BBC Three dramas Being Human and The Fades, put in place a full-time team of "social media creatives" who will generate online videos around the show, and on the show's Facebook and Twitter pages.

Auditions and filming

The producer auditions of series one began on 31 October 2011. Five events took place in London, two events in Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Cardiff, and one event in Belfast. Solo artists and duos can participate, however, they must be aged sixteen or over. The coaches did not attend the producer's auditions. The standard of the auditions has been described as "amazing" and "top standard". The blind auditions for the first series were held at BBC Television Centre and has since been held at MediaCityUK, where every coach is given a "plush" dressing room. O'Donoghue told Digital Spy of the talent at the auditions, "The talent on show after the first auditions on the first day beat out any talent in any finals I've ever seen on television. The hair on the back of my neck and arms was standing up. 16 and 17-year-olds were up there killing it".

Format

The Voice is a reality television series that features four coaches looking for a talented new artist, who could become a global superstar. The show's concept is indicated by its title: the coaches do not judge the artists by their looks, personalities, stage presence or dance routines--only their vocal ability. It is this aspect that differentiates The Voice from other reality television series such as The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent or even Pop Idol. The competitors are split into four teams, which are mentored by the coaches who in turn choose songs for their artists to perform. There is no specific age range and anyone can audition; if a coach likes what they hear, a button-press allows their chair to spin around and face the performer, signifying that they would like to mentor them. If more than one does so, then the artist selects a coach. However, if no coach turns around then the artist is sent home. The Voice has been referred to as a "big, exciting and warm-hearted series"and a "new generation in its genre". The discomfort caused by the poor design of the chair, which weighs 19-stone, has drawn criticism from will.i.am, who claims that it makes him hunch his shoulders.

There are five different stages: producers' auditions, Blind auditions, Battle phase, Knockout stage and live shows.

Producers' auditions and blind auditions

The Voice UK's first stage is the producers' auditions, which are not shown on television. The first shown stage is the blind auditions, where they sing in front of the coaches. The coaches have their backs to the singer, and if they like what they hear, they can press their button to turn around and recruit them to their team. If more than one coach turns, the power shifts to the singer, who then decides which team they would like to be part of. Each coach must recruit a number of singers (10 in series 1, 12 since series 2 onwards) to their team in the blind auditions to progress on to the battle phase.

Since 2017, artists that are not selected by any of the coaches leave the stage after their song and do not talk with the coaches. Equally, the chairs do not turn and hence the coaches do not see any of the artists that are not picked.

Battle phase

The second stage, 'Battle phase', is where two artists are mentored and then developed by their respective coach. The coaches of the team will "dedicate themselves to developing their artists, giving them advice, and sharing the secrets of their success in the music industry". Members of teams perform duets and the coach chooses who advances to the next stage.

In Series 2 (2013), the BBC introduced a new 'steal' twist to the Battle phase. The 'steal' gives a chance to the losers of the head-to-head battles to give one last pitch to the coaches, excluding their own coach, on why they should remain in the process. The coaches then have an amount of time to push their button on their spinning chairs if they want the contestant on their team. As with the blind auditions, if more than one coach presses their button, the contestant chooses which coach to join. In Series 4 (2015), a second steal was added, thus increasing the progressing team to eight members. In Series 6 (2017), each coach only had one steal each.

Live shows

In the 'Live shows' artists perform in front of the coaches and audience, broadcast live.

In the first series (2012), each coach had five artists in their team to begin with and the artists went head-to-head to win public votes. The votes determined which artists advanced to the final eight.

The final eight artists competed in a live broadcast. However, the coaches had a 50/50 say with the audience and the public in deciding which artists moved on to the 'final four' phase. In the first three series, each coach had one member who continued. However, from the fourth series in 2015, the semi-final format changes; only public votes decide which artists move on to the final, regardless of their team. Therefore, a coach may have two of his/her artists in the final. The final (the winner round) was decided upon by the public vote. Throughout the final the coaches frequently performed with their artists. The winner was crowned The Voice.

From the second series (2013), after the introduction of the 'steal' in the battle phase and the new 'knockout stage', each coach will have three artists on their team a total of 12 artists in the live shows to fight for the public vote and to be crowned 'The Voice', subsequently receiving a record deal with Universal Music.

Louder on Two

Starting on 24 March 2014, a new spin-off series aired on BBC Two during the live shows every weekday night. The series is hosted by Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two presenter Zoë Ball, and features interviews with the coaches and contestants as well as providing live acoustic performances by the artists. The show did not return in 2015, for the fourth series of the main show.

The V Room

An online spin-off show titled The V Room was announced in October 2016, with Cel Spellman presenting it. The show is available on-demand via the ITV Hub and features exclusive content across social media sites and the show's mobile app. The show started after the live shows in March 2017. Spellman did not return for series 7 in 2018, and was replaced by previous runner-up Jamie Miller. It was announced on 12 March 2018, that Vick Hope would be replacing Jamie Miller as the backstage presenter.

Coaches

The coaching line-up was officially announced on 8 December 2011. Summing up the entire panel, Cohen said, "Overall, our lineup of Tom Jones, Jessie J, will.i.am and Danny O'Donoghue gives us mega-star quality, great musical range and musicians we know our audience love". Presenter Holly Willoughby described them as "badass", "incredible", and that when you "put them all in the room together, magic happens. They all come from different areas of the music industry and it's quite magical seeing them together." Jones said that the show has more "credibility" than others, due to the judging panel. He said, "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". All four coaches confirmed they would return as coaches for a second series.

Kylie Minogue and Ricky Wilson joined will.i.am and Jones as coaches for the third series following the departures of Jessie J and O'Donoghue. Rumours were passed that Nicole Scherzinger would join the team but later on Rita Ora replaced Minogue for the fourth series. After only one series, Ora left the show, due to touring commitments and joined rival show, The X Factor UK. On 14 August, it was announced that Paloma Faith and Boy George would join Wilson and Will.i.am for the fifth series, meaning that Jones would not return. Jones' axe had a widespread negative response from viewers and by himself, with Jones claiming that he had no idea he had been axed.

On 13 November 2015, Wilson announced that the fifth series would be his last as a coach. However, on 24 March 2016, it was announced that he could make a return to the show. The following month, Faith stated that she had left the show due to her pregnancy, after just one series on the show. In July 2016, it was confirmed that Boy George had decided not to return for the sixth series on ITV. will.i.am later revealed that he would return as a coach for the 2017 series, but Wilson later announced that he would not. In September 2016, the coaches for the 2017 series was confirmed as will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson, Jones and Gavin Rossdale.

On 6 March 2017, ITV confirmed that will.i.am. would return to the series in 2018. The network also expressed that "all parties" were interested in Jones' return, as well. In October 2017, it was announced that Jones and Hudson would return, alongside singer Olly Murs joining the coaching panel, replacing Rossdale.

Presenters

The Voice UK was presented by Holly Willoughby and Reggie Yates during the first two series. In 2014, both stepped down from their roles and were replaced by Big Brother UK presenter Emma Willis and former JLS band member Marvin Humes. Willoughby (series 1 and 2) and Willis (series 3 onwards) are the main presenters for the live shows, whilst Yates (series 1 and 2) and Humes (series 3 to 5) interview the contestants after their performances and are also social media correspondents. In June 2016, ITV confirmed that Willis would return to host the series, but would not be joined by Humes.

Coaches' teams and their artists

In each series, each coach chooses a number of acts to progress to the live shows. This table shows, for each series, which artists he or she put through to the live shows.

In each series, four artists advance to the final week of the live shows, either team-based (in the first three series) or entirely by public voting (since series four).

Key
     - Winner
     - Runner(s)-up
     - Third Place/other finalist(s)
     - Fourth Place

Series averages

The first series became BBC One's biggest new entertainment series on record with a consolidated series average of 9.2million/38.5% share. Across all episodes, including results shows, The Voice UK averaged 8.54m/36.3%. The second series suffered a lot from clashes with Britains Got Talent and premiered 7.47 million viewers in the official ratings. It went on to have the most successful final, however, with 8 million tuning in. This series averaged 7.45m/26.8%. From series 3 onwards, the show was moved to a January start to avoid clashes with Britains Got Talent. This paid off as the 3rd series averaged a much higher viewership of 8.1m/31.6% and series 4 went on to average 8.55m/34.8% making it the most watched series to date. Series 5, the final series to air on the BBC, took a large fall in the ratings. It premiered with an official 7.87m, the second lowest to date. The reason behind this is thought to be the dramatic change in coaches after the fierce backlash from Sir Tom Jones' axing. The new coaches were met with mixed reactions, although Boy George grew much more popular amongst viewers.

Critical reception

BBC Radio 2's Paul Gambaccini told Radio Times that The Voice is "karaoke" and claimed that while the American series was "fantastic to rejuvenate the careers of two of the coaches, Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5's Adam Levine, it didn't give us a viable artist". Mark Goodier also questioned the motives of Universal Music saying, "Universal have to be doing this because they want market share." On whether The Voice is to become a "huge hit" in the UK, he added, "It really depends on whether they find a star or not."

International broadcast

On 23 December 2016, Irish commercial broadcaster TV3 announced that The Voice UK would be shown on the channel. This will be the first time any version of the show will be shown on Irish television since RTÉ One cancelled The Voice of Ireland in favour of Dancing with the Stars.

Music releases by The Voice contestants

As of March 2016, The Voice UK has had four top 10 singles, two top ten albums and overall twenty singles and six albums in the top 75 on the UK Singles and Albums Charts, including one number 1 from series 1 semi-finalist Becky Hill. The first winner to reach number 1 on iTunes was series 4 winner Stevie McCrorie. The Series 7 Winner, Ruti, also topped the iTunes charts, outselling the song at #2 by a ratio of more than 2:1

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