7 Questions With… The Voice UK's coaches Jennifer Hudson, Olly Murs, Tom Jones and Will.i.am: ‘Eventually we’ll find a superstar’

The four coaches from The Voice UK reveal all about the hit singing show ahead of the new series airing on ITV this January.

The Voice UK is back, and it’s bigger and better than ever.

We’ve had a sneaky peek at the first episode of the new series and it’s chock-full of superstar talent, unmissable performances and magical moments (from the contestants AND coaches).

Never miss an episode of The Voice UK with BT TV. Watch live and on demand on the ITV Hub, which you can find in the Players & Apps tab on your TV box.

All four coaches from last series return to find the UK’s best vocalist; US singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, The X Factor alumni Olly Murs, living legend Tom Jones and producer supremo, Will.i.am.

Ahead of its launch on Saturday January 5 at 8pm on ITV, the coaches sat down with BT TV and a group of journalists to chat all about the new series.

1.  How do you feel about making the show fresh and relevant each year?

Olly: You know what, I don’t think we want do that, I think we want to keep it familiar.

Jennifer: Right, why fix something that’s not broke?

Olly: Listen, we’ve got the trios [a new addition for 2019], that’s great and it was a great moment, but we don’t want to change too much. When you change a show too much… I mean, look at Strictly, the format of the show, everything in it, it stays the same. The Voice is staying the same.

The Voice UK Olly Murs

We tweaked it slightly to bring different people in [for the trios] but the concept and the vibe of the show is exactly the same. I think people love that. I think people want to turn their TV on, like I’m A Celebrity, turn it on and go “Aah, this is the show that I love”, not “Why have they done that? Why have they changed it?”

That’s what’s great about our show. It’s just a bit more energy, a bit more sass with us, it’s the same level.

2.  How does it feel for each of you when you lose a pitch in the blind audition stages?

Olly: I’m gonna say it’s annoying, but at the same time, I’m just happy they’re on the show. Also we have the option to steal in the next round. So for me, it’s like “I didn’t get you, but I’m glad you got to come on the show and sing”.

Jennifer: That’s what it’s like for me.

Olly: Also, there’s the rivalry in me that’s like: “I don’t want you going to another show and singing! I don’t want you not being on this show and going and smashing it on another TV show! This is the one you should be on, and you’ve been giving you an amazing opportunity and I really hope whoever coaches you gets a chance to make… give you a chance in your career, in this amazing industry that we love. You’ve got to work for it, but it’s great”.

Will: For me, say for example there’s this super super amazing singer that we all turned for, and that happened a bunch of times, and they go with Tom, or they go with J-Hud, or Olly… for me, it’s “I’m glad you’re on the show”. The singer picks someone that they probably had in their mind. You can’t change who they probably came to think.

3. This year The Voice UK is going up against The Greatest Dancer in the schedule featuring Cheryl. Will you be watching?

Olly: Erm, no, I won’t be watching. As much as I love Cheryl by the way, of course I love Chezza, I wish the show nothing but love because I love Cheryl, and of course I love Simon [Cowell], but it’s all about The Voice for me. They should be worried about us!

Will (pictured on the X Factor with Cheryl below): Yeah of course! Instagram is really cool, because you can just see the good parts [of the show] on their feed. I can just go through Cheryl’s feed after the show… She’s awesome.

Cheryl Will.i.am X Factor

Tom: I think it’s more of a network thing, for us… the BBC vs ITV. For me anyway.

Will: I remember when we did The Voice last year, we were up against Strictly Come Dancing, and then we had the wrong time slot. Then they put us in the right slot, then boom we grew.

So my words of wisdom for Cheryl is just whether it, and I hope that they stick with it, because I care about Cheryl, she’s like family to me, and if it’s a one-time thing that’s cool, and if it’s a long-haul, just stick with it, and fight for an awesome slot.

[Read more: 7 Questions With… The Greatest Dancer’s Cheryl]

4. Do you feel responsible for your acts, like you've got to try and help them after the show?

Olly: I’ve kept in contact with all my acts, and I’m not just saying this, I keep in contact with all my contestants from last year, they always message me at different times, we have a bit of chat, and Instagram message them back, it’s not like we’re best friends, they just message me and say “can you retweet my song?” [and I’m like] “yeah course I can”, and then they’ll say “how you been?” and I’ll say “yeah I’m good, how you been? What’s happening with you? Tell me.”

[To Jennifer] I remember the two opera girls you had in your final last year, Belle Voci, I got them a gig! They said to me “We’d love to get an agent” and I said “Look, actually weirdly enough, someone’s contacted me asking for you two to do a gig, so I’ll give you the details”. I was like the middle man! I’m waiting for the 10%, you know what I mean?!

Jennifer: I find it’s a good sign when you don’t hear from them. I keep up with them doing social media, and I talk to them as well, but when you don’t hear from them that means they’re doing well. Then they come back if they need us.

Tom: Oh yeah yeah, Ruti [Olajugbagbe] one of my acts who won last year (pictured below), I’m helping her because she’s a songwriter as well as just a singer. So when she writes a song, she demos it to the record company, before she does that she sends it to me and asks me what I think.

Ruti Tom Jones The Voice UK

I chat to her as much as I can, but that’s only so much I can do, because of the situation with the recording contract, the [management] agency and all that, it’s all part of the thing, so I can only advise from the outside looking in, I can’t go and fight for her you know, but I can help, which I do, because I think this girl is really great.

She writes great stuff as well. She’s gonna be around, she hasn’t got an album out yet but when she does, and you hear the stuff that she’s written, she’s gonna be around a long time.

Will: My career wasn’t overnight, J-Hud, Tom Jones’, Olly’s, so I think our instant gratification short attention spans that we decided we have today, doesn’t really allow an artist to develop at the time they need to develop, so like to Tom’s point, so Ruti, she doesn’t have an album out, but when she puts an album out, she’ll be on her way, and she’s talented enough to go the long haul.

Donel [Mangena, who came runner-up with Will in 2017] is talented enough to go the long haul.

Eventually we’ll have a superstar. In our defence, if Tom was given a budget to be like “go develop Ruti’s career, here goes some money, spend what you need to develop [her]”, the show will have a superstar, like X Factor. Simon’s given a budget, “go make it happen”. Until we’re given a budget…

Tom: When it’s the end of the show, for us, that’s it. Especially for the winners, the finalists, because they get a record contract, they get management, so that’s like “boom” they’re in there.

[Read more: The Voice UK winners - where are they now?]

5. What’s next for your acts from previous seasons of The Voice UK?

Jennifer: Mo! I’m hoping to hear from Mo [Jamil, winner of The Voice UK 2017 and pictured below with Jennifer). I haven’t heard from him much, but I hope he’s still performing, I feel like it’s what they do with their opportunity, you know?

Mo Jennifer Hudson The Voice

Olly: Do you know what, I said this earlier, me and Jennifer weren’t an instant success when we came off the show [X Factor and American Idol], I lost the show, Jennifer finished seventh, we didn’t win, so it’s about what you do afterwards, you’ve got to work at it, and I’m sure Mo’s working at it. I didn’t know him, I only met him the year he came back on the show. I just want him to work hard and continue singing. If you love it, you love it.

Tom: Into The Ark [runners up for Tom in 2017], they’re always writing, they’re always demo-ing, trying to get stuff out there. I took them on the road with me because I thought they were great live, which they are. Any time I can help anybody I do, and I will.

6. Have any of you been approached by any of the other shows about being judges since you’ve been on The Voice?

Olly [to Jennifer]: Well you’re doing [The Voice] America already. I got offered the Australian one last year. I couldn’t do it. Australia’s a little bit extreme, I mean I’d have to live there.

Jennifer: It’s a lot. Australia’s far.

Olly: Listen, me, Tom and Will have got nothing but respect and love for Jennifer, the fact she goes on a plane, goes back films it, goes back films it…

We finished the Battle rounds before Christmas and I’m like [to Jennifer] “What you doing for Christmas? I’ve got a couple of weeks off” and she’s like “Olly, I gotta fly back [to the US], as soon as I land I’m back into The Voice US.” I’m thinking “Whaaat?!”

Tom: Well Will was on it [The Voice US].

Will: Yeah I’ve done The Voice America, Australia. It’s a long haul. Season 3 of The Voice I was flying back and forth from Sydney to London. That’s a million miles of flights. That’s hardcore.

I’ve talked to Simon Cowell in the past about American X Factor and things like that, we’ve chatted… because I used to manage Cheryl, she was doing American X Factor.

7.  Do you all see staying on The Voice UK as a long-term career plan?

Olly [to Jennifer]: Say yes!

Jennifer: I hope so, I love it!

Olly: Honestly yeah, I genuinely love it! If people want us on it and genuinely enjoy watching it, we can only do what we’re doing, we can only deliver what we’re doing.

I mean, watching Jennifer sing [“And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”] with that girl, I’m sat there thinking “this is amazing, this is a dream come true. I’ve got a front row seat. F*cking great!” Listen, I’d love to do it long-term, sure yeah I love it, that’s why I stayed.

Tom: Well yeah, I’m having a ball, I’m sure Will is as well.

Will: Yeah, I really like it.

Tom: As long as the show is as good as it is, and people love it, that’s the thing.

Watch the trailer for The Voice UK:

The Voice UK starts on Saturday, January 5 at 8pm on ITV. Watch live and on-demand on ITV Hub with BT TV.

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Images: Rex Features

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