On one of the warmest days of the year, television viewers were faced with a terrible series of quandaries yesterday evening – a barbecue or Bo Bruce, a cheeseburger or Cheryl Cole, a Tom Collins or some Tom Jones... it looks like they chose summertime fun.
Despite a performance from pop princess – and former X Factor favourite - Chezza, The Voice UK struggled to pull in the punters for its penultimate outing. The semi-final averaged just 4.5 million viewers (a 29 per cent share) on BBC1 between 6:30pm and 7:50pm, the show's lowest audience yet.
Only a month or so ago the £22m bought-in format was riding high, beating ITV1's Britain's Got Talent in the ratings and delivering more than 10 million viewers. Oh, how fondly BBC1 controller Danny Cohen must look back on those days...
But as The Voice whimpers towards its grand final next weekend, why are viewers switching off in such numbers? The early start time and the good weather won't have helped this week, but ratings were on the slide long before the sun became a factor.
It seems that it's the format itself which troubles many viewers. Once the novelty of the spinning chairs and the battle rounds in a boxing ring are gone, what is left? Nothing more than another live talent show, and at times a rather rushed one.
Because the live shows are such a short run (six programmes) and not every competitor performs each week for the first four, there's very little time to become invested in the performers. By the time the live final arrives next week, we will only have seen the four finalists sing competitively five times: once in the blind auditions, once in the battle round, three times in the live shows. Indeed, as members of the public, we will only have had our say on the competitor three times before the final vote.
This is in stark contrast with The X Factor, where for Little Mix to take the title in 2011, we saw them perform in 10 live shows - for the first three or four, they made no impact at all with viewers, who took a while to get to know the group and decide that they were worthy winners. By the end, we'd seen them sing for survival (in some form) around 15 times and spent enough time with the band members to care if they won or lost. With The Voice's winner, this simply will not be the case.
In addition, the constant upbeat nature of the coaches has become old very quickly. Although at first the public seemed to warm to this feelgood antidote to The X Factor - offering advice rather than criticism - week in week out it has become rather frustrating. The Voice lacks a dose of Simon Cowell bite – because love it or hate it, it provokes a reaction.
If the BBC are right and people want a serious music competition, why did 7.5 million people sit through 200 minutes of camp Euro-silliness in the shape of the Eurovision Song Contest immediately after The Voice last night? They gave the thumbs up - even with an England football match on ITV - to a programme that revolves around Graham Norton delivering relentless digs at the performers for three hours straight.
Clearly The Voice, and its on-screen personnel, need more of a voice if they're going to continue to compete in the cut-throat world of talent shows – because for now it looks like simply being warm, fuzzy, friendly and furiously paced is not enough to stand out from the crowd.
Food for thought for the BBC and Danny Cohen, who have committed to The Voice for at least another year...