The BBC has alienated one of its most loyal performers, with Sir Tom Jones angry he wasn’t given fair warning that he was about to be dropped from The Voice UK.
“In good faith, as part of the team, I’d put the time in my schedule to be involved in Series 5, as I’ve done so for the last 4 years,” he wrote on Friday afternoon. “I’ve supported the show and the BBC since the beginning. I was told yesterday, with no consultation or conversation of any kind, that I would not be returning.”
— BBC The Voice UK (@BBCTheVoiceUK) August 14, 2015
He added that he was very disappointed by the “sub-standard behaviour from the executives”.
“Having been through plenty of transformations throughout the years, I support and admire creative change. But being informed, as a matter of duty and respect, is an important part of creative relationships. This sub-standard behaviour from the executives is very disappointing,” he said.
“I will always admire the courage of the performers who participate in the show, as well as all the production staff who worked tirelessly to make a great family viewing experience for the audience at home. I wish the show well.”
Boy George will join returning coaches Will.I.Am and Ricky Wilson, and new coach Paloma Faith, when The Voice airs on BBC1 next January.
Tom Jones had been one of the show’s original coaches when it launched in 2012, and has been a regular performer on the BBC throughout his career, even singing a duet with Paloma Faith at the BBC Music Awards in 2014.
The BBC responded to Tom Jones’s Facebook post, saying, “The final decision on the coaches’ line-up for series five of The Voice was only taken on Wednesday and Tom’s team was informed early yesterday morning.
“We then announced it to the press so that it didn’t leak. This has been the same every year and no role was ever promised.”
A statement published by BBC Newsbeat added that Tom Jones would be returning to the BBC in October. “The chemistry between the coaches is extremely important and that they all represent different musical genres and we feel the new line up is exactly what the show needs,” it said. “We look forward to seeing Tom on BBC One in October with his Children in Need concert.
“Tom hasn’t been axed or fired from The Voice. He was out of contract once series four ended in April and that contract has not been renewed.”
The Voice’s current presenter Emma Willis said it had been an “absolute pleasure working with a legend for the past 2 years”, while new coach Paloma said, “I have no doubt that you willll be missed”.
It's been an absolute pleasure working with a legend for the last 2 years. You are such a gentleman @RealSirTomJones x
— Emma Willis (@EmmaWillis) August 14, 2015
— Paloma Faith (@Palomafaith) August 14, 2015
Yesterday controller of BBC1 Charlotte Moore said she wanted to “shake things up” with the signings of Paloma Faith and Boy George, and that they would add “unpredictability” to the coaching line-up.
Mark Linsey, Controller of Entertainment Commissioning, added, “As one of our original coaches Sir Tom Jones helped make The Voice UK a success, and we’d like to thank him for his invaluable contribution to the series.
“We think that the line up for series five will be a huge hit with viewers. Meanwhile, Sir Tom will return to BBC One with Rob Brydon in One Big Night for BBC Children in Need.”
But the news went down badly on the BBC’s own blog for The Voice UK.
“Unfortunately the shabby treatment of Sir Tom Jones will affect the viewing figures for the Voice,” one wrote. “The BBC has lost touch with it’s viewers, 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.”
Another added: “A disgrace to try and replace a man of Sir Tom’s talent and experience with a has been talentless like Boy George. This viewer will be switching off on principle … Looking forward to the show crashing and burning now”.