Series five of The Voice UK will be the BBC’s last after the broadcaster confirmed the format had been “poached” by a rival, with ITV thought to be the talent show’s prospective new home.
Acting director of television Mark Linsey confirmed that the BBC would not be keeping the format beyond 2016 after refusing to “pay inflated prices”.
An ITV spokesperson declined to comment, but RadioTimes.com understands that while a final deal is yet to be agreed, there has been no change in the commercial broadcaster’s interest in acquiring the show if it were to become available.
Linsey confirmed in a statement this afternoon that the show would end on BBC1 next year: “The BBC is incredibly proud of The Voice, but the fifth series which starts in January will be our last,” he said.
“We always said we wouldn’t get into a bidding war or pay inflated prices to keep the show, and it’s testament to how the BBC has built the programme up – and established it into a mainstay of the Saturday night schedule – that another broadcaster has poached it.”
The Voice, a format originally devised in the Netherlands by Big Brother creator John de Mol, has aired on BBC1 since 2012.
Several reports last month claimed that the BBC had axed the show, although a Corporation spokesperson later clarified “It is incorrect to say the BBC has axed The Voice and we are in negotiations about its future.”
BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore told Radio Times at the beginning of October that she was keen to keep hold of The Voice, denying that the bought-in format was a “clone” of rival talent shows.
“Unless you are saying that the BBC can’t do talent shows at all, the way The Voice is made – its warmth and tone – is BBC in its nature,” she said. “It is distinctive because of the way the BBC does it. And eight to ten million people rock up to watch Strictly and The Voice, so I know that we’re getting it right.”
However, in the face of next year’s charter renewal, the BBC has been under pressure to justify the price tag of the show it previously outbid ITV for.
Culture secretary John Whittingdale said in August, “The Voice has been very popular, but the fact that the Voice was contested between the BBC and ITV, you can say the result was to force up the money that had to be paid for it.
“It was going to be shown on free-to-air so should the BBC get into bidding wars? It is worth at least raising, is that a good use of the licence payers’ money?” he added, although he later said his comments had been misconstrued.