Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon has let slip the start date for the next series, confirming a head to head clash with new BBC1 flagship show The Voice.
Panellist Dixon said the ITV1 series will launch on March 24, at least a fortnight before the series has traditionally launched in the past four years.
The move is understood to have angered BBC bosses, who believe ITV have scheduled the show simply to lessen The Voice’s impact.
But the commercial network points out the two shows were bound to clash if the BBC opted to screen it in the spring.
There had been speculation that BGT would be battling its new rival for viewers with a simultaneous launch.
ITV is still to reveal an official launch date, but Dixon – who quit Strictly Come Dancing to move to BGT – announced the date herself while appearing on Lorraine this morning.
From 2008 onwards, Britain’s Got Talent has started between April 11 and 17.
The BBC has viewed the choice of date as aggressive scheduling after it confirmed earlier this week that it had chosen to air The Voice on March 24.
A spokesman for the BBC said today: “The Voice UK is an incredibly exciting show and one we hope audiences of all ages enjoy. We took the unprecedented step of confirming our start date several weeks in advance to try and avoid any clashes with other broadcasters.”
The latest spat follows recent scheduling tensions when ITV placed an edition of Coronation Street up against the finale of BBC1’s Call The Midwife. The corporation moved its show to a slightly later slot to minimise the impact.
An ITV source said: “We are surprised that they have chosen to play The Voice against BGT because we have been in that slot since 2008 and it’s no secret that we are always there.
“Regardless of the start date, the two shows were bound to go head-to-head if the BBC chose to launch The Voice in the spring. It’s puzzling because they could have gone earlier in the year and avoided a clash.”
The opening up of a new Saturday night battleground echoes the regular clashes between The X Factor and Strictly in 2009.