Why I am, to my surprise, enjoying The Voice

The Voice series 3

‘Nice’ is an underrated quality in a TV talent show but it might be a good reason to watch The Voice.

I’m not much of a fan of reality television. I have dabbled in Britain’s Got Talent, because you sometimes see something genuinely original, and have consistently kept up with Strictly Come Dancing, because it’s pretty dancing, glamourous outfits and fundamentally meaningless fluff. But I don’t touch anything in the Big Brother / I’m a Celebrity vein and hate, hate, hate The X Factor. So it’s caught me by surprise to discover that I’m enjoying series 3 of The Voice.

When it first came to our shores, my reaction was total indifference. Another singing talent show? Yawn. Having the judges pick their teams based only on what the contestants’ voices sound like, without being influenced by appearance put a slightly interesting twist on the format, but that point of difference disappears after the blind auditions. I had no idea who one of the judges, Danny O’Donoghue, was (nor heard of his band, The Script), and didn’t really see what level of expertise he and Jessie J, who had released one album by this point, could bring to the show. So, the entire of series 1 passed me by.

I caught a very tiny bit of series 2 because of a minor personal connection to Leah McFall, the eventual runner-up, but I saw none of the early audition rounds. However, a few weeks ago, while waiting for dinner to cook, I got sucked into an episode of the current series, and have been watching it since. This is why:

You do not have to witness anyone be humiliated.
I know that some people watch reality TV auditions purely for the people whose self-belief does not match their talent. I am not one of those watchers. I desperately will everyone to be good, to perform well and when it turns out they really can’t sing/dance/make people laugh, I cringe as I share their embarrassment and disappointment. Everyone who makes it to the television stage on The Voice has already auditioned in front of the producers and so you are guaranteed that they meet a decent standard of vocal ability. This takes a lot of nervous tension out of my evening.

Jamie Lovatt - The Voice

The coaches have credibility…
Jessie J and Danny O’Donoghue did not return for series 3. They were replaced by Ricky Wilson, who has made as many albums with the Kaiser Chiefs as both Jessie and Danny put together, and Kylie Minogue, who, well, is Kylie. Alongside (Sir) Tom Jones and Will.I.Am, long-time artist and producer in his own right (Black Eyed Peas notwithstanding), this set of judges carry more industry weight that the previous line-up conveyed.

…and they actually seem to like each other
I don’t know what the chemistry between the coaches was like before and these four could all just be really good at pretending to get on, but I enjoy the interplay between the professionals. Maybe it’s because Kylie is so adorable. Maybe it’s Ricky’s charming everyman. Maybe it’s Will’s left-field wackiness. Whatever it is, they bounce off each other entertainingly (while Tom looks on, bemused) and their chatter doesn’t make me cringe. I don’t see any of the weary cattiness that I associate with these judging panels.

The Voice - Kylie and Tom

It’s only positive
The combination of the above reasons means that the whole experience feels like it can only be positive. Because all the contestants can actually sing, the judges never have to be harsh with anyone. The people they don’t pick, even though they haven’t got what they wanted, are encouraged to keep going and given constructive advice for improvement. They get a lot of personal interaction (and a whole lot of hugs) from the coaches – who do seem more like mentors than judges. There isn’t a Simon Cowell panto villain anywhere.

The blind auditions are now over, and with it the show’s selling point, so maybe the following episodes with their confusing ‘battle’ structure will lose me and perhaps the competition between the mentors will escalate and detract from the camaraderie I like so much. Even so, I’m looking forward to finding out and a few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought that I’d be saying that. Sometimes, it’s nice to be surprised.

Young Apprentice 2×07 TV Review

“I think you just got us all fired.”

This was the penultimate episode of Young Apprentice and one that had me glued to my seat even though I needed the loo from about five minutes in. The episode opened with Lord Alan Sugar sneaking into the businesschildren’s house and, like the Big Bad that he is, ruining their precious relaxation time – where we actually got to see the group with smiles on their faces and wearing something other than business attire – shock horror! Read on after the jump – expect spoilers.

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Young Apprentice 2×06 TV Review

These last couple of weeks have been busy for our young entrepreneurs: James finally started getting listened to; the teams got to attack the OAP and teen markets with old fogey gadgets and deodorant before Gbemi and Lewis’ beef with Harry M (as well as being generally rubbish) got them fired.

After the house’s surprise at Harry M’s return from being on the losing team for five consecutive weeks, he continued kicking hard throughout this episode, which had more of a Bargain Hunt aura around it – all the bargains, none of the orange presenters. Keep reading after the jump – expect spoilers.

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Ramsay Street to Prime Time, Neighbours Stars in American TV

With my favourite former Neighbours star set to debut her new American series on BBC2 tonight I have decided to look back at the actors who have escaped from the show my sister used to make me watch, and are now regulars on American TV. These are the success stories.

Margot Robbie
Where did you come from?
Back on Ramsay Street Robbie played Donna Freedman, notable for wearing dungarees, hiding the departure of her father, being Ringo’s girlfriend and kissing Sunny, the least convincing exchange student ever. After a rocky start in the fashion industry Donna eventually left to study in New York.
Where did you go?
In one of the biggest hits of the new US TV season Robbie stars alongside Christina Ricci in Pan Am. Following the exploits of a group of air stewardesses, Robbie’s character Laura is on the run from her mundane life and is on a search for adventures in the sky and across the globe in the 60s. Pan Am premieres on BBC2 tonight (16th Nov) at 9pm.

Jesse Spencer
Where did you come from?
Spencer started his career in Neighbours as Billy Kennedy, son of soap royalty Karl and Susan. After five years of adventures including a kissing contest and carpentry, Spencer got bored and left the show, only to return once for a cameo in 2005.
Where did you go?
Now Spencer co-stars in one of TV’s most popular dramas as Dr. Robert Chase in House. Starring alongside fellow import Hugh Laurie, Spencer has solved many a medical mystery, gained and lost a fiancée, and left and rejoined the team at least once. House currently airs on Sky1.
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Adam and Joe Return in April!

You may think that for a film and TV blog we don’t talk a whole lot about TV… you’re right. So today we’ll address that by talking about radio! That’s almost TV right?

On Tuesday of this week it was announced on their BBC blog that the wonderful Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish will be returning to BBC 6 Music in early April for a 12 week run of their Saturday morning show, Adam and Joe.

I’ll admit to being a bit behind on this particular phenomenon but got myself right up to date last year and I suggest you do too. You can subscribe to their podcast and listen to old shows here, which will get you partially caught up and mean you won’t miss a show in April.

This news is far more exciting than anything that happened at the Oscars. Come on everyone, “Stephen!”…

Randall and Hopkirk (Revived)

It seems that Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) is getting itself an American makeover. Having been an ITV series way back in the late sixties and then on the BBC from the year 2000 the show about two detectives, one of which is dead, is potentially to be made for the Syfy network in America.

The pilot is being written and executive produced by alums from Scrubs and American Dad so the series, while being an hour long buddy-cop style drama, is certainly being treated as a comedy. As close to Psych as they can get it the better.

The Syfy network has a murky history of original productions as their numerous mini-series and TV movies are a testament to. However in their long list of sloppy television sits the late and great Battlestar Galactica series that demonstrated that TV remakes and Syfy originals can be truly fantastic.

I know I’ll at least give it a try.

Forget the Cinema This Weekend

I’d love to present a list of Easter related films to watch, but barring any Jesus led epics I can’t think of any. Combine that with cinema’s lacklustre selection at the moment, barring Kick Ass of course and your Easter weekend is going to be served by the TV. Unless you want to go outside or something.

Tonight we get the return of Doctor Who which will either prove to be the best thing ever or a sore disappointment, the way my expectations have been raised is worrying. Stephen Moffat is easily the best writer the new series has seen and so having him as the essential show runner can only raise the show’s game. Matt Smith will hopefully bring a fresh energy to the role and Karen Gillan brings the first attractive assistant I can remember.

Tomorrow we get another slightly odd man in a long coat as Jonathan Creek returns for another special with Sheridan Smith taking on the sidekick role for a second time. Admittedly the previous special was a bit lacklustre, the twist coming from nowhere without any real clues, but it was enjoyable all the same. I can’t help but enjoy Alan Davies’ performance and fail to guess how the trick was pulled off.

Forget the cinema, the BBC is bringing the entertainment to you.

Doctor Who is on tonight 3rd April at 6:20pm BBC One

Jonathan Creek is on Sunday 4th April at 8:00pm BBC One