Is Jessie too big for her boots The Voice coach clashes with staff on BBC talent show
00:49 GMT, 18 May 2012
When ratings were high, relations behind the scenes on The Voice seemed to be all sweetness and light.
But with audiences down by more than four million, tensions between coach Jessie J and various staff on the BBC show are, to say the least, ‘severely strained’.
This week has seen what backstage staff describe as a ‘war of the wardrobe’ between the singer and the show’s stylist Faye Sawyer.
Clash: The Voice judge Jessie J
The Beeb viewed it as a coup when Ms Sawyer, 42, was poached to join The Voice from ITV, where she used to run the wardrobe on The X Factor and appeared as a fashion expert on This Morning.
But now colleagues say she has reached ‘breaking point’ over the past two weeks because of the ‘interference and rudeness’ from Jessie, 24, over the styling of her contestants.
My show insider discloses: ‘Jessie has clashed with Faye over virtually all the styling choices for her contestants. She is convinced she knows better than the professionals and won’t listen to expert advice.
‘At times, it’s made it almost impossible for Faye to do her job.
‘She’s very experienced and respected, and put up with The X Factor judges’ whims, but she is struggling with this pressure.’
The row is another illustration of Jessie’s increasing isolation on The Voice. I’m told there are also strains between her and all the other coaches, Sir Tom Jones, Danny O’Donoghue and will.i.am.
The source adds: ‘Jessie seems to feel as if she’s being picked on and shut out by the other coaches because of her age and the fact that she’s the only female on the panel. But that just isn’t true.’
Some production staff believe that Jessie was given the job before she was ready, but a senior BBC source disputes this, telling me: ‘Jessie is very passionate about her responsibilities in the show, and has input into every aspect of it, both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.
‘It is a closely-knit team and they all get on well, so nobody on it is afraid to have their say, no matter how robust.’
I’ve been in New York this week where the second series of The
Big budget: Christina Aguilera
Voice US, with Christina Aguilera (left) as a coach, is now one of the biggest shows on American TV.
BBC executives will be envious when they realise each NBC show costs 1.5 million-plus, dwarfing the Beeb’s 650,000 per episode.
One staffer there told me: ‘We pay for every show to look a million dollars.
The BBC doesn’t have that sort of ambition because of pressures over the budget — and it shows.’
Hiring Britney Spears as a judge on the next American X Factor is a great publicity coup for Simon Cowell, who needs big-name star power to turn around the relatively low ratings of its first season.
But some British producers on the show, who previously worked on the ITV version, reckon it’s an appointment worth keeping our eyes on.
My source says: ‘When Britney last appeared on The X Factor in the UK in 2008, all the staff on the show were sent an email telling them not to make any eye contact with her.
As a judge, she’s going to have to take direction from producers. It could be a very interesting few months.’
Her success on Dancing With The Stars – the U.S. version of Strictly – has led to presenting and acting offers for super-slim Katherine Jenkins, who’s in the final on Monday.
But they’ll all have to wait: the soprano’s keen to get back to singing.
She told me: ‘I need to get away to Europe and focus on the album.’ And speaking of her dancing efforts, she added: ’I’ve never ached so much.’
Strictly Come Dancing’s three original stars have been told they will definitely get significant pay rises – after years of being the lowest paid judges on TV talent shows.
Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood have each been paid 90,000 per series for the past three years – low by TV standards, especially given their loyalty and the show’s success.
But when I met Craig (pictured) this week, he told me the BBC has finally agreed an increase – just in time for the landmark tenth series later this year. ‘We’re still negotiating and none of us has signed a new deal,’ he revealed. ‘But it will definitely go up. It’s about time!’
And Craig, who’s been single since last year, admitted he’s had his sights on a certain former Strictly contestant. ‘I saw Gethin Jones the other night and asked him if he had come over to the dark side yet. He told me he was thinking about it!’ hooted Craig.