The Voice UK: Why Reggie Yates is the BBC"s voice of the future

Why Reggie Yates is the Voice of the future



14:54 GMT, 6 April 2012

As the ratings battle between the BBC’s The Voice and ITV1’s Britain’s Got Talent becomes increasingly bitter, the Beeb’s new presenting duo has been largely overlooked.

But the selection of Reggie Yates as co-host, alongside the ever-popular Holly Willoughby, has fulfilled a long-held desire to discover a high-profile black prime-time presenter.

A lack of racial diversity among its top hosts has long provided a headache for BBC management, which, for many years, has been criticised for having too many white faces fronting major shows.

Dream team: Reggie Yates and Holly Willoughby

Dream team: Reggie Yates and Holly Willoughby

Speaking for the first time about the sensitive issue, Reggie, 28, tells me he has been aware of the lack of role models for black youth on the screen.

‘Growing up, there was no one for me to look at,’ he admits. ‘Even now there’s only Lenny Henry, Trevor McDonald, Trevor Nelson and me. There are not many black people in the media, that’s just a fact.’

But Reggie insists race did not play a part in his appointment. ‘I’ve done over 3,000 hours of live TV. I’ve presented Top Of The Pops for ten years. The fact that someone my age is doing The Voice is a more significant thing than someone of my colour.

‘For me, the bottom line is: “Are you good enough” I find it really frustrating when people trade on their race or believe they can’t achieve because of their race.

‘When I turn on my TV, if the person fronting the show is good enough, I don’t question their ethnic background.’

Reggie is viewed as a major face of the future at the BBC, but he’s determined to continue making documentaries about social issues for youth channel BBC3.

The former child actor, who was raised on a tough North London council estate, says: ‘I understand why young people get frustrated when they see some middle-aged Newsnight guy talking about something he has no experience of.’

Reggie also defended the 22 million price tag of The Voice. ‘At the end of the series, I don’t think anyone will question how much was spent to make it a reality,’ he argues.

Now, I’m not so sure about that.

Love makes Kara strictly a non-starter
Kara Tointon's relationship with her professional dance partner from the show could rule her out as a judge

Kara Tointon's relationship with her professional dance partner from the show could rule her out as a judge

Her transition from gritty soap star to glamorous dance champion made her a favourite to replace the departed Alesha Dixon as the sole female judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

But I’m told Kara Tointon’s relationship with her professional dance partner from the show will almost certainly rule her out of the coveted job.

The ex-EastEnders actress began dating Artem Chigvintsev while competing on the 2010 series and they’ve been together since.

However, BBC bosses want to re-sign Artem for the milestone tenth series of the show later this year. They believe it would be impossible for Kara to fairly score her partner and the celebrity with whom he is paired.

A Strictly source tells me: ‘There’s no way Kara can do it. She is very serious with Artem and it will prove too much of a conflict of interest.’

No final decisions will be made until the appointment of a new executive producer for the popular Saturday night series is announced.

But BBC bosses are already weighing up the potential fallout if they decide not to return the ever-popular Arlene Phillips to the judging panel.

A strategy outlining how they will justify not re-hiring the 68-year-old is secretly being discussed. Bosses are desperate to avoid a repeat of the ageism debate that surrounded their decision to axe the veteran choreographer in 2009.

Not secure: Dermot O'Leary

Not secure: Dermot O'Leary

While Dermot O’Leary has been privately told he will return to his X Factor job this year, his long-term future is not secure.

I’m told Simon Cowell wants a male/female duo for what may be the final series next year, and the plan is to promote ITV2’s Xtra Factor hosts Olly Murs and Caroline Flack.

Highlights are two ITV entertainment specials – This Is Lionel Richie airs tonight and The One & Only Des O’Connor is on Easter Sunday.

While Channel 4 launches celebrity charity editions of Noel Edmonds’ Deal or No Deal in primetime on Sunday night, BBC1 and BBC2 are sticking largely to their usual line-ups.

However, BBC3 has cleared most of its primetime schedule over Easter to celebrate the family favourite movie Shrek, including a new documentary about its success.

Sky Living’s decision to hand Geri Halliwell her own reality show has added to growing tension among the Spice Girls.

Mel B has long wanted her own reality show here, but no UK broadcaster has commissioned one after her American series, It’s A Scary World, was axed after just ten episodes.

My source in Camp Spice says: ‘Mel B isn’t pleased about Geri’s new show. She wants a reunion between all the Spice Girls and knows that is even less likely now.’

I revealed recently how Mel was furious that Victoria Beckham had vetoed a BBC TV talent show to find stars for the band’s upcoming West End musical.