The BBC and ITV are to go head to head once again on Saturday nights with flagship entertainment shows: final schedules for the week beginning 24 March, which were released by the broadcasters this afternoon, confirm that BBC1’s multimillion-pound singing contest The Voice will debut opposite the return of Britain’s Got Talent on ITV1.
The Voice’s first series will begin on BBC1 at 7pm on Saturday 24 March, finishing at 8:20pm. ITV1 will start the new, sixth series of Britain’s Got Talent at 8pm, continuing until 9:20pm.
The two shows will overlap for just 20 minutes, a shorter amount of time than earlier schedules had suggested, some of which showed a 50 minute overlap.
In 2010 and 2011, Britain’s Got Talent began in mid-April. Its slightly earlier scheduling this year is widely being seen as an aggressive response by ITV to the BBC’s heavy investment in The Voice, a variation on the X Factor format in which wannabe singers are initially judged on their vocals alone, without being seen.
The Voice is a Dutch format created by John de Mol, the man behind the original versions of Big Brother and Deal or No Deal. The BBC is thought to have paid in excess of £20m for the British rights.
Back in January, BGT executive producer and head judge Simon Cowell said: “With us and the BBC, I laugh about it, but there is unbelievable rivalry now. They want to be number one, I want to be number one. I knew the BBC were putting on The Voice. They’ve done this to have a pop at The X Factor and to have a go at the BGT ratings.”
The Voice is judged by Jessie J, Tom Jones, will.i.am and Danny O’Donoghue, with presenters Reggie Yates and Holly Willoughby. Britain’s Got Talent is this year judged by Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams, with guest appearances during the auditions stage from Carmen Electra. Ant and Dec host.