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BBC’s The Voice: The Future of TV Talent Shows Or a Little Too Worthy for Its Own Good?

Posted on the 26 March 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
BBC’s The Voice: The future of TV talent shows or a little too worthy for its own good?

The Voice judge Jessie J performs: but is The Voice more important than image in today's music industry? Photo credit: Official Blackberry Images

Pushed as the antidote to lightweight talent shows, the BBC’s new £22 million talent show, The Voice, aims to focus on vocal ability over image. In blind auditions, judges begin with their backs to the singer and only if they like what they hear do they swivel round to see them and begin a bidding war to become their mentor. But is this just a gimmick or a show with genuine staying power? Will it win the ratings war with ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent or will the great British public prefer to continue to mock the talentless on a Saturday night?

And the judges are …. The Voice began with the judges singing live together, which re-emphasized the show’s raison de etre. The four judges/coaches are Jessie J, Tom Jones, Black Eyed Peas frontman and The Script singer Danny O’Donoghue. Michael Hogan poked fun at the line-up in The Telegraph, describing Danny as “cheekily charming,” but “bound to be nicknamed Danny O’Dono-who?,” Sir Tom Jones as “rambling on about Elvis and Aretha like a granddad telling war stories” and Jessie J as resembling “Mystic Meg or Hilary Devey from Dragon’s Den.”

Refreshing lack of mockery. Michael Hogan of The Telegraph preferred the warm style of The Voice with it’s “constructive criticism rather than barbed put-downs” to the “cruel bearpit” of The X Factor and found the absence of the usual “novelty contestants or deluded nutjobs” refreshing. Former England cricketer Freddie Flintoff tweeted that he enjoyed The Voice’s offering of “talented contestants without the usually mockery.”

Too worthy, a little wearing. Ian Hyland in The Daily Mail compared Britain’s Got Talent as being “like a well-fuelled gipsy wedding conga rampaging through” the BBC’s “genteel tea dance” and made it clear which he preferred: “It’s not that The Voice is a terrible programme. It’s just terribly worthy. And terribly long.” Sam Wollaston in The Guardian also found the constant reminders that the BBC show is “not about LOOKS or AGE or any of that trivial ITV stuff” rather wearing, and admitted he enjoyed the pantomime element of other shows’ early stages, “with all the really crap acts and the judges shaking their heads and rolling their eyes.”

Ratings war. After a “game of scheduling brinkmanship,” in which ITV was “accused of spoiling tactics” for bringing Britain’s Got Talent forward from its normal April slot (John Plunkett, The Guardian), The Voice seemed to have won the first battle, if not the war, in “the television clash of the year” between the “Worthy Blue Peter-ish Beeb” and the “Brash Trashy Commercialism” of ITV, as Michael Hogan put it in The Telegraph. For twenty minutes on Saturday night, BBC’s The Voice drowned out the competition with 2.4 million more viewers. Alex Graham, Chief Executive of Wall to Wall, The Voice‘s production company, tweeted: “Lucky overlap not bigger, eh?” However, Cowell’s creation had a peak audience of 11.5 million versus The Voice‘s 9.8 million, according to BBC figures, so the victory may yet prove illusory.

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