Can Judge Tom find his voice for new BBC talent series

It's so unusual: Sir Tom Jones on new BBC talent show The Voice

It's so unusual: Sir Tom Jones on new BBC talent show The Voice

When BBC bosses signed 71-year-old singer Sir Tom Jones to be the judge on their expensive new talent series The Voice, it was hailed as a coup.

But my sources on the show say the Welsh icon initially struggled to adjust to his role and put in some worrying performances at the early pre-recorded auditions.

They tell me he found it difficult to adapt to working alongside his much younger colleagues Jessie J, 23, Black Eyed Peas member Will.I.Am, 36, and The Script star Danny O'Donoghue, 31.

However, while those working on the
show admit he looked like he felt out of place at the beginning, they
are confident he'll be 'comfortable' by the time the live shows begin

An insider
explains: 'Tom has really had to work to adjust to the format in all
honesty. He is a legend as a singer but is not used to this sort of

'It's been difficult for him because the three others on the panel are contemporaries of each other and are very familiar with current pop music.

'We're confident he'll get more comfortable as the weeks go on because otherwise the live shows could become very embarrassing.'

The judges on The Voice are officially referred to as 'coaches' and told they do not have to criticise the singers who audition.

But my source says: 'For Tom it was more about adjusting to the new music genres. All the coaches on the US show are current chart stars so having someone from a different musical generation is a real experiment. But it was important for the BBC to make clear The Voice is also for fans of Strictly Come Dancing, not just young people.'

The BBC officially launches the show today and executives privately believe it could cause significant damage to ITV's biggest talent franchises Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor.

One Beeb staff member confidently predicts: 'The X Factor will look mean and tired in comparison. This show should become a mega-hit, although nothing is ever guaranteed these days.'

Meanwhile, Holly Willoughby had to temporarily step aside from her role on TV team quiz Celebrity Juice, which was filmed on Wednesday, to fulfil her commitments to the BBC show.

Her place as Celebrity Juice team captain was filled by former Spice Girl and her close friend Emma Bunton.

For weeks speculation has swirled about the future of Take That star Gary Barlow on the panel of The X Factor after Simon Cowell admitted he was disappointed with the talent found on the ITV show last year.

But sources close to the show tell me Gary, who revealed this week he is to become a dad for the fourth time, will now definitely return, assuming he can come to an agreement on his new contract.

Original judge Louis Walsh will also be back. 'I'll be on that show till the very end, there's no getting rid of me,' he told me ecstatically at the Brit Awards on Tuesday night.

However, show boss Simon Cowell plans to inform him he needs to become more competitive this year and make a genuine bid to win the show.

Dermot O'Leary, the presenter, is also safe, despite not yet signing a new contract.

But Olly Murs is not confirmed to return to The Xtra Factor. 'It still depends on whether I can work in the dates with my music commitments,' he told me.

Finger of blame points to ITV bosses for snub
The finger of blame: Adele cut off

The finger of blame: Adele cut off

Red faces all round for ITV executives, including director of television Peter Fincham, who were sitting at tables just yards from the stage at the Brit Awards on Tuesday night.

For most of the night, they had boasted to the gathered stars, media figures and music industry players they were entertaining that the ceremony would go down in Brits history as one of the best.

Cue Adele's acceptance speech disaster, where show host James Corden cut the star off in mid-flow as she thanked fans following her best album win.

The singer's one-fingered salute to TV bosses and loud boos inside the 02 Arena soon had ITV chiefs awkwardly changing their opinion.

However, despite the incident, Corden is clearly the best Brits host of the last decade and is expected to be back for the awards next year.

An ITV source tells me: 'James did an incredible job. We want him back for many years to come. The Adele situation was not his fault, he was simply following orders.'

Is Mad Men's Don crazy for Joan
Crazy for Joan Jon Hamm

Crazy for Joan Jon Hamm

After a tortuous 18 months off air due to financial negotiations between its producer and American broadcaster, the highly anticipated fifth series of Mad Men finally returns in just a few weeks.

The show's biggest star Jon Hamm, who plays advertising man Don Draper, has been given increased responsibility, including the opportunity to direct the third episode of the new season.

Speaking about his new role as director in London last week, Jon said: 'It was an eye opening experience in many ways, a look behind the curtain. But it was exhilarating and something I would love to do again. It was great fun.'

However, it was a different experience for the rest of the cast, who are more used to Jon playing board games with them backstage, than telling them how to improve their acting performances.

So it's no surprise some of his friends tried to make the experience a little bit uncomfortable for him.

'They tried and they failed,' Jon laughed at a BAFTA event. 'I'm not a yeller, I'm not a screamer. I'm not that guy in any part of my life. It was easy to direct characters who are pretty much my friends.'

Jon also took the opportunity to deny plans for a long-rumoured Mad Men movie.

'We're not making a film,' he insisted, adding that the confusion may have come from the fact the first episode of this season will run for two hours.

Jon, who was an unknown actor when he secured the Mad Men role, is now so respected that the drama's creator and writer Matthew Weiner consults him about the developments in his character's life.

He confirmed: 'I do sit down with Matt and discuss Don in very general terms. He solicits my opinion and I offer it.'

But he added: 'There are certain moments when I don't like what Don's done, but I trust Matt's ability as a storyteller.'

While the storylines have been kept under wraps, the show's star hinted at the development of the chemistry between Don and curvy secretary Joan, played by Christina Hendricks.

'Don't take this the wrong way, but we do explore it as the show goes on,' he hinted.

Jon has also revealed that Meryl Streep told him she was a fan of the show during their recent meeting at the dinner following the BAFTA Film Awards.

'She's always been very complimentary about the show. I wanted to say hello and thank her,' he said.
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Negotiations stepped up for Sian

Negotiations stepped up for Sian

BBC director general Mark Thompson's admission in the Mail that the corporation has not put enough older women on TV has been taken as a clear message by channel bosses and producers.

Already negotiations have been stepped up to retain the services of departing BBC Breakfast host Sian Williams, 47, and return Arlene Phillips, 68, to Strictly Come Dancing.

A range of roles within the news department are being considered for popular Ms Williams, who's been named as host of the BBC's morning Olympic coverage in an attempt to stop her defecting to ITV.

But Arlene's return to Strictly is seen as more controversial.

A Beeb source tells me: 'There's a lot of reluctance within some quarters of the entertainment department for Arlene to return because it's seen as a move backwards. The fact is Strictly had its biggest series last year with Alesha Dixon on the panel.

'But after the very clear message from above there'll be huge controversy if they don't go with Arlene given the great demand to have her back from fans of the show.'

Representatives for Ms Phillips would not comment on her discussions with the BBC.

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Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli is avoiding overtures from his friends Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell to join Twitter, where they battle to have the highest number of followers.

In fact, the self-proclaimed 'techno-phobe' still refuses to text message, Google himself or use Facebook.

'I'd look like an idiot on Twitter because I can't spell,' he explains, 'I speak five languages and I can't spell in any. I can read in English and Spanish and French and Italian. But I think I have some weird form of dyslexia.

'My brain works faster than my finger. I think so fast and it doesn't translate to my hand.'

For the record, Piers (1.9 million) currently beats Simon (1.5 million), although the X Factor mogul is catching up fast.

Blood on the ice boosts ratings, says Christine

Blood on the ice boosts ratings, says Christine

Presenter Christine Bleakley seems to have come up with a solution to stop the plummeting ratings on Dancing on Ice … more injuries on live TV.

'Viewers want to have the fear factor that the contestants can be hurt. It's like going to ice hockey matches back at home in Northern Ireland – people love the blood on the ice. It's all a bit barbaric.'

However, she thinks it isn't the celebrities who are at most risk of serious harm it's their professional partners.

'I have utmost respect for the female ice skaters,' she explains. 'They are reliant on these male celebrities who don't have a clue how to lift them.'

ITV bosses are trying out popular BBC actor and presenter John Barrowman as a possible regular standby presenter on its daytime programme This Morning.

Broadcasting insiders have speculated the flamboyant entertainer might become the latest star talent from the BBC to be targeted by ITV's ambitious director of television Peter Fincham.

As the former controller of BBC1, he promoted Mr Barrowman, who does not have a golden handcuffs deal with the Beeb, to a series of starring roles in primetime.

My source says: 'ITV think John is a real talent who shouldn't only be seen on the BBC. They want to work with him on a series of upcoming projects.'