It’s all change for The Voice UK, with a new channel, new coaching line-up and the return of a familiar face – as singing legend Sir Tom Jones is back! And it seems he hasn't lost any of that fighting spirit...
Sir Tom Jones on returning to The Voice UK, bonding with his fellow coaches… and how he’s prepared to fight tooth and nail to find the next big singing star…
Sir Tom, how does it feel to be back on The Voice UK?
“It feels tremendous – sitting back in the red chair, it was like I’d never left. When ITV were starting afresh with the series and asked me back straight away it was a really nice feeling to know that they felt what happened to me, shouldn’t have happened. So I was very pleased to come back because I’ve always enjoyed doing the show and the talent this year is very good – the calibre is high.”
Tom’s loving sitting back in the big red chair as The Voice UK moves to ITV
Joining the coaching panel this series is US Oscar-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, and Gavin Rossdale, the lead singer of rock band, Bush. What’s the chemistry like between you? And what do they bring to the show?
“We’re getting on like a house on fire. Will’s still smart, crazy, creative Will. Jennifer’s a great singer, there’s no doubt about that, and she’s coming across very strong. Gavin’s meticulous in the way he is and is very picky in who he chooses. Sometimes it is just a fight between me and him for singers.”
Tom with fellow returning coach will.i.am and new mentors Jennifer Hudson and Gavin Rossdale
Do you like the fact there are never any novelty acts on this show?
“The thing about The Voice UK is that all of these singers have auditioned for producers before they get to us, so we know that, whoever walks out on that stage, can really sing. Of course, how well they can sing is another matter!”
There’s a brutal twist to the blind auditions this series in that, if no coaches turn their chair for an act, that act leaves the stage without any comment. How have you found that?
“It is tough but the contestants know now, when they come on, that if we don’t turn, they have to go. There is no explaining why, so they’re prepared for it. It’s a test in itself – if you’re going to crumble after going to an audition and not get through, you’re not prepared for the big time. There’s a test right there.”
We love seeing the competitive sides of the coaches come out when more than one of you pushes your button to turn for a singer. Can we expect lots of that this series?
“This show has always been competitive, especially when more than one chair turns. Often people think I’ll go for a certain type of singer on this show, but that’s not true – as long as they have the necessary basic skills and come across as being real, then I’ll go for it and press the button. Then, if you really want that person, you have to do everything you can to get them.”
They might be all smiles here… but Tom’s not afraid to battle with his fellow coaches for singers for Team Tom
The Voice UK has been criticised in the past for not producing any standout stars. Could we see that change this year?
“There’s always been a record contract for the winner – but getting a record contract doesn’t guarantee getting a hit. For every series we’ve done so far, there’s been enough talent, but you’ve got to get the right songs. With the move to ITV, however, the record company, Polydor, are more hands on from the beginning of the series.”
So you’re confident this series could discover the next big thing?
“Being on this show is just the beginning for these singers – they’re getting to showcase their talent on a Saturday night in front of millions of people. When I first started, you had to get a record contract BEFORE you got on television, so the singers on The Voice UK are getting massive exposure!”
Who’ll get the coaches to turn their chairs? Find out when The Voice UK starts on Saturday January 7 at 8pm on ITV.