The BBC and ITV are set for a ratings war for Saturday night supremacy in the UK when their respective talent shows go head-to-head in the battle for viewers.
The Voice makes its debut at 7pm tomorrow with the return of Britain’s Got Talent an hour later at 8pm – meaning the shows will overlap for 20 minutes.
It had been feared they would cross over for as long as 50 minutes and the exact timings have been a source of tension since it emerged both channels were launching their shows on the same night.
BBC bosses accused ITV of trying to sabotage the debut of their new series as BGT normally launched around three weeks later in the year.
However ITV claimed a clash was foreseeable if the BBC opted to launch a Saturday evening series in the spring.
The departure of Alesha Dixon from the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing to join the BGT panel alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and David Walliams, did not improve relations and neither did the suggestion by The Voice’s co-host Reggie Yates that his show was “more credible” than other talent shows.
Dixon responded to that yesterday telling journalists: “The only thing credible is success.”
Cowell has accused the BBC of “silly rivalry” and said the corporation needed to “get their sense of humour back”.
The mogul said he would “back my talent against theirs” and said he would “query” if there was a need for another singing talent show.
BBC1 controller Danny Cohen said he would judge The Voice, which sees singers taking part in blind auditions, on its “own terms”.
He told Broadcast magazine: “I’m conscious that Strictly launched with 4.9 million viewers, The X Factor five million and Britain’s Got Talent around the same. I’m not going to put a number on what we see as success for The Voice”.
However he said the show would be more “warm hearted” and will celebrate talent – “you don’t get on this show unless you’re a good singer” – rather than feature people who “can’t do things well”.