The Voice UK is about to embark on its final series on the BBC and there’s a delicious sense of unpredictability about it.
It’s off to a new home come 2017, bought as it was by commercial broadcaster ITV, and this is a team going out with a bang, not a whimper. There’s a confidence here. It was the highest-rated singing show on TV in 2015 and you can feel that excitement oozing from it.
Of course, this sense of the unknown is in a big way down to new coaches Boy George and Paloma Faith. They’re a bit like that relative you try and keep away from all friends and potential suitors because you’re never quite sure what they’re going to say next. “There’s not enough extreme in media,” Paloma Faith squealed at the press launch, her playful cackle very much the soundtrack of the first episode. “I came on this show to have fun,” Boy George teasingly grinned.
There’s still a bit too much ‘nicey nice’ towards all of the contestants. ‘Someone should have turned for you’, ‘I regret not turning…’ and all that jazz. But the rest of the feedback has broken free of the reality show cookie cutter.
“Let’s just make musical babies now!” enthuses Paloma Faith in the opening episode. “You ain’t seen me go yet,” Boy George warns as the newbies get down to the business of battling to score the best singers for their own teams (which we know eventually leads to a full scale row that leaves Paloma in tears). You want to hear from the new coaches and it gives it a buzz.
The returning faves hold their own, too. Ricky Wilson is quite simply enjoying himself. He ticked off ‘winning coach’ last year and is just making the most of his final hurrah, his exit due to follow this third and final stint.
will.i.am said he’s having to time his moments better – where his own “electricity” fits in amongst the “hundred thousand volts of personality between George and Paloma” – but when he goes, he goes. My favourite moment being when he continually gets his own act’s name wrong in a big ‘skit’ about said name, the other coaches merrily sitting back to let him dig a bigger and bigger hole…
The test, as ever, will come when those chairs stop spinning. The battle rounds onwards have never really succeed in lighting a fire under viewers. But for now, The Voice is red hot.
The Voice returns Saturday 9th January on BBC1