IT’S the ITV talent show where “blind” auditions mean the focus is solely on the singer’s voice – and that authenticity is what keeps Emma Willis on board for her ninth year as host of The Voice.
The presenter has moved into factual documentaries alongside her work on entertainment shows but reckons there is the same heart in both.
Ahead of the new series, Emma, 46, said: “At the centre of everything I do is real people. The subject matter might be different – whether it’s singing or babies – but it’s people-centred care.
“That’s what you do in a hospital and that’s what I do on The Voice.”
Emma is back for the 11th series alongside coaches Sir Tom Jones, Olly Murs, Will.i.am and Anne-Marie in the famous spinning chairs.
And this year contestants will face a new round called The Callbacks in their attempt to secure a recording contract with Universal’s label Umod.
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On why viewers are still tuning in after more than a decade, Emma adds: “There is enough doom and gloom in the world so on a Saturday night, when you’re sitting down with your family, you need to see something that’s uplifting, fun and enjoyable.
“Even though it still has its serious moments, it also brings a lot of fun and light.”
The Voice returns to ITV on Saturday, September 3, at 8pm.
Will.i.am: 'sometimes we overthink it'
WILL.I.AM. has appeared as a coach on The Voice since it first began, seeing the show through hundreds of acts, plus a number of hosts and judging line-ups.
But he says there was no stranger challenge than having to film with a virtual audience during Covid.
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So the Black Eyed Peas rapper, 47, is delighted to have fans back in their studio seats for the latest series – and even has an idea to add more audience participation.
Will said: “We are overthinking it, over-analysing and the audience shakes us up and says, what are you doing? You should turn around for this person.
“Sometimes we are so thick-headed we don’t listen to the audience, then the audience is angry.
“They need to have a new layer where the audience can throw soft projectiles our way to wake us up.”
The US star joked: “We’ve just added a new format to The Voice, the audience is armed with potatoes, no . . . tomatoes. They are armed with soft tomatoes.”
Soft fruit aside, zany Will.i.am says this year he is hunting for an artist whose song he loves so much he can play it again and again.
He added: “At the moment, it’s a group called Fleet Foxes.
“The other day I rode around LA for five hours with that song on loop. Five hours listening to that on repeat.
“There’s not a lot of sonic bombardment that steals your thoughts or takes you to a place that doesn’t allow you to complete your thoughts. It’s like, atmospheric still.”
Anne-Marie: 'I finally believe I'm worthy'
POP beauty Anne-Marie has confessed she didn’t feel worthy to be a coach last year.
She was chosen to replace US singer Meghan Trainor, who left after announcing her pregnancy.
But now, back for her second stint after a member of her team took last year’s crown, the Kiss My singer is ready to rock it.
The chart queen, 31, who has had six top ten hits, said: “Last year it was probably my own issues of feeling not worthy of it.
“When I was called and they said, ‘We would like you to do it,’ I was like, ‘What, really? Me?’ So I had a doubt the whole time, like, am I worthy of this, have I got stuff to give to people that they can learn from?”
Her experience coaching 2021 show winner Craig Eddie to the title ended up being transformative for Anne-Marie, too.
The Essex-born performer went on: “For the whole of last year I was going through a process.
“And it was almost like this experience was helping me, as well as the people on the competition. By the end of the show I was like, oh wow, I do have knowledge, I do have stuff to give to people.
“So I know that I deserve to be here.”
This is the first time Anne-Marie had filmed the show with a live audience.
She added: “Before it was silent and you can hear everything.
“Having the audience is actually difficult because they are shouting, so there must be loads of shots of me trying to hear the singers.”
Tom Jones: 'Top Docs? No, it's just luck'
AT 82, Sir Tom Jones remains as sprightly as his fellow coaches – but it’s not down to a Hollywood health regime or expensive doctors.
Instead, the music legend puts it down to luck.
Tom, who has been on the panel of The Voice since its inception in 2012, can still hop on stage and deliver a tune.
He said: “I’m lucky I’m in good health. I’ve got nothing wrong with me, I’ve got no debilitating illnesses that bother me, it’s just wear and tear – that’s about the only thing that has happened to me.
“You know you need to do certain things that the body and the mind need to survive.
“The better care you take of yourself, the longer you’ll live but there’s a certain amount of luck involved as well.
“I think it’s luck.”
“My voice is still in great shape, everything is ticking away nicely.”
In the launch episode, Tom moves the studio audience to tears with a rendition of his song I Won’t Crumble With You If You Fall.
He tells them: “This is a very important song, I try to pick songs that mean a lot to me.
Of the new series, the veteran Delilah crooner added: “I’m still here and still enjoying what I do.
“That’s the great thing for me, still being in the business. I am still having as much fun and excitement as I did when I started. I’m making new records, doing new things, and carrying on.”
Olly Murs: 'I can't believe it's been five years
PRINCE of pop Olly Murs was just 25 years old when he first strutted into the spotlight on The X Factor.
If that feels like a lifetime ago for his fans, then spare a thought for Olly – who can barely keep track of time himself.
Now 38, he laughed: “I can’t believe it’s my fifth season on The Voice.
On my phone it came up with it being five years ago in 2017, me on set for the first time doing all the promo.
“It’s just like, wow! I can’t believe it’s been this long!
“It is still the same excitement, still the same feeling.”
Newly engaged Olly is hoping to find a batch of fun and entertaining new acts to delight viewers at home.
And he reckons returning coach Anne-Marie will be a big help.
He added: “It’s great that Anne-Marie decided to come back again because she really does bring spontaneity.
“She’s also a really cool, fresh artist so it’s nice to have her opinion and have a fellow Essex person on the panel.”
This year’s series sees the return of the “block button”, where the coaches can stop the others spinning their chairs to nab an act.
And it sounds like the gang made good use of the feature.
Olly added: “Tom and I had a great block battle.
“I got him and he got me and then Anne-Marie’s got me for a second year running, and most likely will get me again.
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“So in two years since the block button was introduced, I’ve basically been blocked six times!
“But I take that as a compliment.”
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