The Voice UK
British talent competition series
The Voice UK is a British singing competition television series. Created by John de Mol, it premiered on BBC One during the spring television cycle on 24 March 2012. Based on the original The Voice of Holland, and part of The Voice franchise, it has aired ten series and aims to find currently unsigned singing talent (solo or duets, professional and amateur) contested by aspiring singers, drawn from public auditions. The winners receive a recording contract with Polydor Records. Winners of the ten series have been: Leanne Mitchell, Andrea Begley, Jermain Jackman, Stevie McCrorie, Kevin Simm, Mo Adeniran, Ruti Olajugbagbe, Molly Hocking, Blessing Chitapa and Craig Eddie.
The series employs a panel of four coaches who critique the artists' performances and guide their teams of selected artists through the remainder of the series. They also compete to ensure that their act wins the competition, thus making them the winning coach. The original panel featured will.i.am, Jessie J, Sir Tom Jones and Danny O'Donoghue; the panel for the tenth series featured will.i.am, Jones, Olly Murs and Anne-Marie. Other judges from previous series include Kylie Minogue, Ricky Wilson, Rita Ora, Paloma Faith, Boy George, Jennifer Hudson, Gavin Rossdale and Meghan Trainor.
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 a Kids edition, which began airing in 2017. The show is set to return in 2022.
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 and Dannii Minogue left the panel. ITV were said to be afraid that the show with would "upstage" theirs.
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 American format.
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]."
We've got three dancing shows on BBC One this year on Saturday nights, and I wanted to decrease that but still find ways that we could have live, often performance-based television. We are in an era where the audience love that [and] we shouldn't ignore what the audience want."
—Danny Cohen on why the BBC choose to get the rights for The Voice UK.
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.
On 10 December 2020, ITV announced the tenth series of The Voice UK would premiere on 2 January 2021.
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. 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.
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".
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 blind auditions for the first series were held at BBC Television Centre and has since been held at dock10 studios in Salford Quays. 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".
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.
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. For series 11 (2022), the battle round has been axed.
The third stage of the competition is the 'Knockout stage'. It was first introduced in the second series (2013). The four coaches will enter this stage with seven team members each; six winners of the battle phase, and one stolen member. Artists perform a 'killer song' of their choosing and the coaches each pick three members of their team to go through to the live shows, creating a final 12 for the public vote. For series 7 in 2018, this was changed. Only 6 members in each team participated in the knockouts, and only two from each team advanced. Also, series 8 had a new twist, one eliminated contestant could be bought back to compete in the live shows, through the 'lifeline vote'. This meant that 9 acts would take part in the live shows. From series 10 (2021), the knockout round has been axed.
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.
From the tenth series (2021) This has changed 3 contestants from each team perform fortnightly and only 2 of them from each team will be facing the public vote and one of their coaches will reveal the contestant with the most public votes to go to the live final.
To date, ten series have been broadcast, as shown below.
Louder on Two
Main article: The Voice: 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. On 12 March 2018, Vick Hope took over for Jamie Miller as the show's new digital reporter.
Presenters and coaches
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 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.
Timeline of presenters
- Main presenter
- Backstage presenter
The coaching line-up was announced on 8 December 2011. Presenter Holly Willoughby described them as "badass" and "incredible". 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. 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, Sir Tom 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. On 21 September 2018, the Daily Express announced that will.i.am, Jones, Hudson and Murs would all return to the show as coaches for the eighth series. In September 2019, it was announced that Meghan Trainor would replace a departing Hudson, who cited work commitments in the United States as the reason for her departure; Jones, Murs and will.i.am were announced to be returning alongside Trainor.
On 8 October 2020, Trainor announced that she would not be returning for the tenth series, after announcing her pregnancy.  English singer Anne-Marie would replace Trainor in 2021.On the 12th October 2021, it was announced that all four coaches would return in 2022. 
Timeline of coaches
Coaches' teams and their artists
Main article: List of The Voice UK contestants
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, artists advance to the final week of the live shows, either by team-based (in the first three series) or entirely by public voting (since series four).
- - Winner
- - Runner-up
- - Third Place
- - Fourth Place
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 Tom Jones' axing. The new coaches were met with mixed reactions, although Boy George grew much more popular amongst viewers.
(inc. results shows)
|Series premiere||Series premiere |
|Series finale||Series finale |
|Average UK viewers|
(inc. results shows)
|1||17||24 March 2012||9.44||2 June 2012||7.82||8.54||BBC One|
|2||15||30 March 2013||7.47||22 June 2013||7.95||7.45|
|3||15||11 January 2014||9.35||5 April 2014||7.15||8.10|
|4||15||10 January 2015||9.05||4 April 2015||6.87||8.55|
|5||15||9 January 2016||7.87||9 April 2016||5.12||6.49|
|6||17||7 January 2017||7.12||2 April 2017||4.02||5.60||ITV|
|7||14||6 January 2018||6.50||7 April 2018||5.87||6.04|
|8||14||5 January 2019||6.54||6 April 2019||5.35||N/A|
|9||14||4 January 2020||5.50||14 November 2020||N/A||N/A|
|10||12||2 January 2021||TBA||20 March 2021||TBA|
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."
On 23 December 2016, Irish commercial broadcaster TV3 announced that The Voice UK would be shown on the channel, after RTÉ One cancelled The Voice of Ireland in favour of Dancing with the Stars.
Main article: The Voice UK discography
Awards and nominations
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- Most Recent
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The Voice UK has been confirmed to be returning to ITV next year, but in an attempt to keep things fresh, there's been a bit of a twist on the usual format.
The show will be bringing in a new round as it heads into its 11th series: The Callbacks. These new battles will be taking place after the Blind Auditions and will decide which hopefuls make it through to the Semi-Final. That means the Battles and Knockouts have been axed (or possibly streamlined).
Apart from that, it's business as usual. Sir Tom Jones, Anne-Marie, will.i.am and Olly Murs are back as the coaches, while Emma Willis is hosting once more.
Related: Olly Murs undergoes surgery after stage accident
"Whenever I'm back in The Voice UK studio, my expectations are exceeded. I love the anticipation of hearing unknown singers and I can't wait to see what's in store this time around," said Sir Tom, while Anne-Marie added: "It feels so good to be back! I had the most amazing time last series, and I am so excited to be returning to my big red chair. Winning with Craig last series was a special moment and I am determined to keep a hold of my crown!"
"I'm excited to be returning to the UK, my second home, as we start filming the next series of The Voice UK. Discovering fresh and unique voices is what this show is all about, so I am looking forward to meeting Britain's next wave of talent," said will.i.am.
Meanwhile Olly shared: "I cannot wait to be reunited with The Voice UK family! We always have so much fun making the show and I'm sure this series will be no exception. Anne-Marie needs to watch out because this series I'm taking back the title!"
Related: Anne-Marie talks candidly about her "phobia"
As Annie-Marie mentioned, she won her first series on the show, while Olly's acts won the previous two years. Meanwhile, poor will.i.am hasn't won a single series since the third back in 2014.
The Voice UK airs on ITV and is available to watch on ITV Hub.
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Uk the voice
.The Voice UK 2021: Best Blind Auditions
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