Tom Jones says the BBC version of The Voice UK encouraged him to make comments he was uncomfortable with to create "friction"
The 76-year-old says the ITV version of the show wants the coaches to bond - but there's still pressure from show bosses to turn for singers
Sir Tom Jones has blasted the BBC, saying they wanted “friction” between the coaches on The Voice UK and that he was asked to make comments he didn’t agree with.
Asked whether the talent show feels different after its move from the BBC to ITV, Jones told RadioTimes.com and other press: “It feels more relaxed.
“With the BBC when I was doing that one, they wanted friction between the coaches. They wanted that competitive thing,” he continued. “So I said a couple of things that they suggested I say and when I looked at it on TV I thought ‘You shouldn’t have said that. It wasn’t like that.’”
RadioTimes.com approached the BBC to respond to Jones's comments, and a spokesperson for the corporation denied his claims, saying: "During its time on the BBC, coaches on The Voice were never scripted.
"The tone of the programme was supportive and celebratory and any rivalry displayed by the coaches was always friendly both on and off camera.”
Jones was a coach on the show when the first series aired on the BBC in 2012. He remained on the programme for four years, but was unceremoniously dropped from the fifth run. He has previously accused the BBC of “sub-standard behaviour” after he was only told he had been let go from the show a day before his replacement was announced by the BBC.
By contrast he said that now it’s airing on ITV, the show is “more friendly”.
“They want the coaches to bond,” he said. “Which I think is a great idea… this is real – it feels more real. That’s what it is.” That's backed up by fellow coach Gavin Rossdale, who told RadioTimes.com earlier this year that he thought Jones “feels very paternal towards me" and described the veteran singer as "probably one of the greatest people I’ve ever met.”
However, Jones also said that pressure from show bosses to turn their chairs for singers was “always a thing” and continues to be so.
“At the beginning of this one [on ITV], they want chairs to turn and I said ‘I can’t do it unless I feel it’,” he said. “So you have to stick to your guns in that respect.”
The Sex Bomb hitmaker also criticised the format of the show on the BBC for featuring celebrity mentors such as Cerys Matthews, who were brought in ahead of the Battle Rounds to assist the coaches in making their decisions.
“I think it was just to add to the show,” he explained. “To have another celebrity come on for the show. But all in all, I think if you need somebody to come on and give you advice on what I should be telling – you should know that yourself. You don’t need somebody else to confirm it, you ought to know it yourself. So I think it was just for the benefit of the show.”
On the lack of stars that the programme has produced since it began in 2012, Jones said: “I think being on ITV with the record company [which will give the winner a deal] being hands-on from the beginning, which they were not with the BBC – they weren’t allowed to – there’s more chance of somebody getting hit records now.”
However he remained resolutely coy on whether he would return to The Voice UK next year. “It all depends,” he said. “It’s one contract per year, that’s what we sign on for.”
The Voice UK airs on Saturday 4th March at 8pm on ITV