Why the future of The Voice UK depends on Christina Marie

The BBC1 talent show concludes this weekend but there can only be one winner, says Susanna Lazarus

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Why the future of The Voice UK depends on Christina Marie
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Before all you Sally Barker fans mount an internet stampede, I think she's great. Tom's remaining artist is, like him, a class act and if I was judging The Voice UK final on talent alone, her unique voice and effortless performances would have my vote. But as series three inches closer to its climax this Saturday, the pressure is on to produce a winner. And Christina Marie Wickens has to be it. 

The two women are ahead of the pack as favourites to be crowned winner this weekend, ahead of Jamie Johnson and Jermaine Jackman (as a sucker for alliteration, can I just say how much I enjoyed writing that).

They couldn't be more different. Sally - who enjoyed early career success before settling to have a family - is the queen of the understatement, allowing her sultry voice to do the talking, while her 20-year-old rival is all about the drama - dramatic facial expressions, dramatic hand gestures, dramatic vocals.

They've both got "The Voice" but Christina Marie has, for want of a better term, "The X Factor". Why? Because she's marketable and the Beeb desperately needs someone they can sell if they're to overcome the embarrassment suffered by the non-careers of Leanne Mitchell and Andrea Begley. 

When not one but two more series of The Voice were announced last weekend, the news was met with a mixture of surprise and resignation. Was the BBC really committed to flogging a format that has continued to struggle, even with the added sparkle of new judge Kylie Minogue? With BBC3 facing the axe, was this seriously what the bumper BBC1 budget was going to be spent on?

The Voice needs to prove it's capable of finding a real winner - someone who will continue to compete in the charts in years to come. We're not asking for the global hysteria generated by One Direction. An Alexandra Burke or Cher Lloyd will do. But unless the Beeb's flagging talent show finds itself the full package (ie. Christina Marie), the next two years are looking rather bleak.

The Voice UK series three final begins this Saturday at 7:00pm on BBC1