Boy George has replaced Tom Jones on The Voice UK’s coaching line-up – and viewers are not happy.
Sir Tom wrote on Facebook that he was very disappointed with the “sub-standard behaviour from the executives”, who he felt had not given him fair warning that he was about to be replaced on the BBC show.
But it’s not just Tom who has made his voice heard online: viewers have been sharing their thoughts about the decision on The Voice UK’s own blog.
“Tom has been poorly treated and the programme will be poorer for his absence,” said one of the highest rated comments on the post announcing the new panel – Boy George, Paloma Faith, Ricky Wilson and Will.I.Am.
“The BBC has lost touch with its viewers,” wrote another. “Tom was the backbone of the show and despite comments to the contrary, he was also the most credible judge along with will.i.am. His age has nothing to do with his experience, he is as popular today with fans of all ages because he adapts and understands the music business. I will be watching something else BBC when you air the next series. RIP The Voice.”
“What are you playing at BBC to treat a person of the calibre of Sir Tom Jones in this manner,” said another viewer. “He was the one reason I watched the programme so you’ve lost a viewer for the next series. Nothing against Boy George, but he’s not in the same league as Sir Tom.”
Some others, however, praised the decision to refresh the line-up.
“So many people against this move,” said one. “A few points to consider:
“1. Coaches can’t stay around forever. They get bored, they have other things to do, and the audience gets bored seeing the same coaches comments each week – it HAS to change and evolve to remain fresh. And yes that means your favourite coach will move on eventually, but give their replacement a chance.
“2. Both Faith and George are outspoken, energetic, flamboyant entertainers with a massive amount of experience to bring to the show. And to anyone who thinks Boy George isn’t current or relevant to 2015, you haven’t a clue. Do you think he’s done nothing since karma chameleon??? Go check out what he does these days, then make up your mind.”
Another wrote: “Think this is a stroke of genius, Boy George has a fantastic emotive voice. Can’t wait to watch in January.”
However, the vast majority of comments on the BBC’s page were against the move.
“I am very disappointed at the shabby treatment of Sir Tom who has been a loyal participant in the show since the beginning. To replace him with Boy George is a farce – I wonder how long he will last. Who will be the next to get the push – Will.i.am or Ricky? I am pleased to see that they are both back for this series – it certainly wouldn’t be worth watching without them.”
Another commenter said, “Unlike you, I couldn’t be less super excited – BBC has shown very poor judgement about cross-generational viewer interests & a shocking lack of respect for Sir Tom Jones, icon of British music. Definitely won’t be watching The Voice any more. Doesn’t bode well for viewer support in BBC Review.”
Speaking of charter renewal, The Voice UK has already found itself in the firing line when it comes to the BBC’s future: a government green paper singled out the show as a possible example of the BBC behaving “in an overly commercial way”, although coach Ricky Wilson was quick to hit back at the show’s critics.
“I’d like to do it again because I don’t think there’s going to be another one, is there?,” he said in July. “Because of all that government nonsense. John Whitting-whatever-he’s-called,” he added, referring to Culture Secretary John Whittingdale.