The winner of the battle for UK viewers will be announced today after the BBC and ITV went head-to-head for the first time with their respective Saturday-night talent shows.
‘The Voice’ made its debut at 7pm last night as the return of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ aired an hour later at 8pm – which meant the shows overlapped for 20 minutes.
It had been feared they would crossover for as long as 50 minutes and the exact timings have been a source of tension since it emerged both channels were launching their shows on the same night.
BBC bosses accused ITV of trying to sabotage the debut of their new series as BGT normally launched around three weeks later in the year.
However ITV claimed a clash was foreseeable if the BBC opted to launch a Saturday evening series in the spring.
The departure of Alesha Dixon from the BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ to join the BGT panel alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and David Walliams, did not improve relations and neither did the suggestion by ‘The Voice’ co-host Reggie Yates that his show was “more credible” than other talent shows.
Dixon responded to that earlier this week telling journalists: “The only thing credible is success.”
Cowell has accused the BBC of “silly rivalry” and said the corporation needed to “get their sense of humour back”.
The mogul said he would “back my talent against theirs” and said he would “query” if there was a need for another singing talent show.
BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said he would judge ‘The Voice’, which sees singers taking part in blind auditions, on its “own terms”.
He told Broadcast magazine: “I’m conscious that Strictly launched with 4.9 million viewers, The X Factor five million and Britain’s Got Talent around the same. I’m not going to put a number on what we see as success for The Voice.”
However he said the show would be more “warm hearted” and will celebrate talent – “you don’t get on this show unless you’re a good singer” – rather than feature people who “can’t do things well”.
‘The Voice’ kicked off with judges Jessie J, Tom Jones, Will.i.am and Danny O’Donoghue performing Black Eyed Peas hit ‘I Gotta Feeling’ together before taking their seats facing away from the stage.
During the show all the judges listened to the performances without being able to see the singer.
It was only when they pressed a button saying they wanted to work with them that their chair spun round.
The first to audition was 17-year-old Jessica Hammond from Belfast who performed Jessie J’s single ‘Price Tag’.
All four judges hit their buttons to show they wanted her for their team but she chose to go with her musical hero, Jessie J.
Former boyband star Sean Conlon was not so lucky. He was previously a member of 5ive but failed to secure a place on any of the judge’s teams with his rendition of Coldplay’s ‘Trouble’.
‘Do It Like A Dude’ singer Jessie J snapped up another team member when 34-year-old Toni Warne, from Great Yarmouth, also chose to be on her team.
Warne revealed she had lost all her hair to alopecia when she was 21 and lost her confidence but she wowed the judges with her performance of Will Young’s hit ‘Leave Right Now’.
The mentor said she thought Warne could teach her a thing or too.
All four judges battled to snap up YouTube sensation Ben Kelly from Derry, who impressed them with his animated performance of ‘Rocket Man’ by Elton John.
Both O’Donoghue and Will.i.am hit their buttons within seconds after Kelly began singing, with Jessie and Jones following on later.
On choosing Jessie, Kelly said: “The boys are great but I think this girl is for me.”
However, it was final performer J Marie Cooper, 27, who brought down the house with all four judges competing to mentor her after she sang ‘Mama Knows Best’ by Jessie J.
After hearing her performance, Jessie said: “Your voice is ridonkulous. I would write songs like that for you all day.”
However, Cooper decided to team up with Will.i.am because he hit his button first to say he wanted to work with her.
After her performance, the Black Eyes Peas star told her: “I felt a pain and a love for the craft. You are a star of an artist.”
Prior to the shows airing, last year’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ winner Jai McDowall stoked the fire by saying he prefers the new show ‘The Voice’.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Weekend Breakfast programme: “I had a great experience on the show last year. It was an awesome thing to do and I think for it to be a year on from being on the show to now, I’ve done that much amazing stuff.
“But to be fair the likes of The Voice, I think, would be a better show. I think if I had had the chance to go on that last year I probably would’ve picked it.
“I like the idea more – I like the idea of being able to sing and not have to worry about what you look like and how you dress.”