BBC chiefs want to hire Annie Lennox as a judge to help save ailing TV show The Voice
22:20 GMT, 7 June 2012
After a series which saw its ratings halve and credibility plummet, chiefs at the BBC and Universal Music are already secretly plotting how to save 25 million TV flop The Voice before it returns next year.
While any adjustments to the format have to be approved by the show’s Dutch owners, executives here are able to change the presenting and judging line-up.
My sources say senior BBC executives acknowledge they made a mistake by hiring Jessie J, The Script frontman Danny O’Donoghue and Black Eyed Peas founder will.i.am as coaches because they were too young and too inexperienced.
Voice of an angel: BBC bosses believe hiring singer Annie Lennox as a judge on The Voice could help save the show
Against all expectations, it was 72-year-old music veteran Sir Tom Jones who ended up winning with his low-key singer Leanne Mitchell.
As a result, experience is now believed to be the way forward. Two names high on the show’s target list for series two are Annie Lennox, 57, who is signed with record giant Universal, the BBC’s partner on the show, and Lulu, 63.
The Eurythmics singer will be difficult to sign because she has always been opposed to working on a talent show, being — it is said — one of the few popstars to have openly refused to work with Simon Cowell.
New line-up: Singer Lulu is another possibility to be a judge on the show
Lulu, however, might be keen. She was a front-runner to be a judge this year, until bosses decided to hire 24-year-old Jessie J, believing she would connect with younger viewers.
That wasn’t the case. The singer she mentored, Vince Kidd, ended up last in the final and her diva behaviour backstage infuriated producers.
BBC1 controller Danny Cohen will make the final decision. He is believed to want time to consider his options because salvaging the show would help restore his reputation as an executive on the rise at the corporation.
An insider explains: ‘Various people are going to be sounded out for the judging panel because the line-up of coaches is the only area where Danny can really shake up the show.
‘Any changes to the format are out of the hands of the BBC. Lulu now seems likely after the success of Tom Jones. The thinking is that she would be interested in taking part.
‘Annie Lennox would be a real coup, but much harder to secure. Her professional relationship with Universal could help.’
Presenter Holly Willoughby is considered safe for a second year — if she wants the job. ITV have already named her as host of the updated version of Surprise Surprise, originally fronted by Cilla Black.
But there are question marks over her sidekick Reggie Yates, who interviewed the singers backstage.
BBC bosses pinned their hopes on Engelbert Humperdinck (below) reversing the UK’s dismal Eurovision performance.
But after his second-to-last placing, Eurovision insiders are lobbying for the return of a public vote to pick our entrant rather than it being done in secret, as it was with Engelbert and boyband Blue the year before.
Second-to-last: Being famous didn't help Engelbert Humperdinck at the Eurovision song contest
That would mean paying to broadcast selection shows from the BBC’s entertainment budget — already stretched after 25 million was spent on The Voice. My source says: ‘At least if we perform poorly with an act selected by viewers, everyone can take some blame.’
Don’t bank on the UK pulling out of Eurovision either. ‘It’s a huge ratings success and will be around for a long time,’ the source said.
X Factor boss Simon Cowell could have two judges on this year’s panel whom he’d previously axed or tried to fire. He wanted to sack Gary Barlow (right) but ITV put their foot down — and are breathing a sigh of relief after his Jubilee concert triumph.
My source said: ‘If we’d gone ahead with Simon’s plans to replace him, we would look ridiculous now.’
Nicole Scherzinger, dumped from the
U.S. version, could be the fourth judge alongside Tulisa and Louis
Walsh. Guest judge Mel B was favourite but is likely to be committed to
the Australian X Factor.
Gary Barlow, pictured performing with Cheryl Cole at the Queen's Jubilee Concert in front of Buckingham Palace, faced the axe from the X Factor
Viewers riled at the BBC’s shambolic Jubilee coverage gave weatherman John Hammond a dressing down after he wore jeans and a casual shirt on Sunday.
One viewer tweeted: ‘It looks like he’s going clubbing.’ Another asked: ‘What happened to standards’ The BBC said: ‘John’s outfit was in line with the tone of the programme.’
American broadcaster ABC has ditched plans to remake legendary British comedy Only Fools And Horses.
It will please David Jason, who played Del Boy and insisted the show would not ‘travel across the pond’.
A one-off episode was made. But TV chiefs pulled the plug after that. My source says: ‘It’s a blow because it’s been talked about for over two decades.’