ITV has scooped The Voice from the BBC and has a problem. A good problem: it’s got too much talent. Where is The Voice actually going to sit in the schedules come 2017?
The general impression is that the spinning chairs will stay in their current January slot, running from the start of the year until April. But ITV is a busy bunny on those gloomy New Year Saturday nights. There’s Ninja Warrior, Take Me Out, The Jonathan Ross Show – and don’t forget the old favourite You’ve Been Framed. Sorry Mr O’Leary but my Saturday nights truly start when someone inadvertently smashes their face into something concrete in a children’s playground.
Then, somewhere around the end of February, the viewer-hogging hit that is Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway arrives. Unfortunately for The Voice this usually coincides with the end of the spinning chair bit. It’s at this point most declare ‘no spinny no likey’ and tune in to see who’s going home with a fridge and a year’s supply of dog food on the win the ads game show. A triumph when The Voice was a competitor, not so much when they’re broadcaster bedfellows and need to work together.
Chuck in Schofe’s You’re Back in the Room at the tail end of The Voice’s usual run and ITV might have to rethink their ‘come on in’ branding and tell everyone to bugger off somewhere else.
But, fear not, I’ve had the old crayons out and a stack of Radio Times magazines and I think I have – at least at the most simple level – an idea of how it might look.
First up, keep The Voice where it is from January to April. There’s apparently a show coming from Gary Barlow that’ll compete on BBC, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Secondly, keep Take Me Out in January too but slice it down from three to two months so that it’s done and dusted before the start of Saturday Night Takeaway. Three of its eight series have had this shorter run. I know, if I had a light, you’d be switching it off now Paddy. But, it usually has a later start time than The Voice and I think the channel could merrily run from goofy home videos, through the spinning chairs, onto the dating show and no doubt into a jolly good chin wag on Ross’s show. Ditch ideas of bringing back Harry Hill’s Stars in Their Eyes, because, well, because.
This means moving Ninja Warrior – which this year kicked off in January – to later in the year. Otherwise it’s just one too many shiny floors for a Saturday night. And given Ninja Warrior regularly brings in more than four million viewers, and is already seeking contestants for its third outing, it seems a shame to crowd it. There’s precedent here, too. The assault course-theme show sat in the schedules from April to May for its first series in 2015 and would be a neat accompaniment to Britain’s Got Talent next year (working under the assumption that a new ITV contract with both BGT and X Factor is imminent for 2017 and beyond).
Slicing down Take Me Out leaves The Voice and Saturday Night Takeaway to run comfortably together from February to April with little interference. There could be a smattering of You’re Back in the Room or a new show like Bang on the Money, but the channel is bound to want the spotlight on the two bigger shows. The Voice needs to pull in the punters for this first ITV outing and if Ant and Dec suddenly stopped attracting eyeballs the world would probably stop spinning.
Come April, The Voice final and Takeaway conclusion can tee up the start of reality juggernaut Britain’s Got Talent, which can happily shoulder the burden of being the channel’s key weekend entertainment show. Start the Ninja Warrior engines here instead and maybe even bring in a bit of Play to the Whistle. There’s a neat mix of supporting acts available while the dancing dogs and wall-climbing athletes lead the charge.
Before you know it we’ll be onto X Factor (and, ahem, Strictly Come Dancing over on the Beeb), with an amuse-bouche of The Chase celebrity specials and perhaps a smattering of Keep It In the Family. There’ll probably be another summer run of The Harry Potter series because this magical franchise still appears to have the power to tempt even the most determined sun-seeker away from the BBQ.
Of course I’m no schedule expert. If, like an over-excited Oscar-winner, I’ve missed something out, I apologise. Indeed, ITV themselves told me it’s far too early to be discussing this kind of thing. But, by my calculations, we can expect shuffling rather than cancellations and that’s promising.
And, because this has felt somewhat like a school project, here’s a peek at some of my working out: