BBC1's The Voice: Tom Jones says winning may not be the best thing

BBC talent show judge's comments come after winner failed to make top 40 and changes are revealed to second series

BBC1 talent show The Voice returns for a second series next Saturday but Sir Tom Jones, one of the programme's coaches, has suggested that winning might not be all it's cracked up to be.

The first series of the show – bought in a two-series deal for a reported £20m – started brightly before fading away last year, eclipsed by its ITV rival, Simon Cowell's Britain's Got Talent.

Changes have been made for the second run, with more emphasis on the "blind auditions" which proved a hit with viewers, with the number of live shows reduced to just three.

But first series winner Leanne Mitchell failed to make the top 40 with her debut single, a cover of Whitney Houston's single Run To You, leading Jones to suggest it might have been better had she not won.

The winner of the second series, like last year, will be given an exclusive record deal with Universal Music.

"I think they rushed it," said Jones, who helped coach Mitchell to her victory and is still in touch with the 29-year-old singer who is due to release her first album next month.

"The problem is if you win The Voice it's out of your hands completely because you are signed to Universal Records, management, agency, the full thing," said Jones at the second series launch.

"So you can't do much for that person after you have got that person to win. If you want to do something with them further it's better if they don't win."

Jones later clarified: "Just to clear it up, I don't think they're better off if they don't win. As far as doing anything else with them, after that … if they want me to help them further, because they are locked up, there's nothing you can do."

Jessie J said winning the show was no guarantee of success.

"Nothing is ever promised, just because you get signed it doesn't mean you are going to be successful," she said.

"I have always said to them, write down what you want to be, what you want to look like, and what your songs are going to sound like. They are singing covers for six months and then they are thrown into a studio to write an original album and some of them have never written songs before."

The Voice will return to BBC1 three days before the arrival of new director general, Lord (Tony) Hall on 2 April.

It will feature a new "knockout" round, and the coaches –, Jessie J, Danny O'Donoghue and Jones – will be able to steal each other's talent. The number of live shows, which proved a turn-off with viewers last year, will be cut to three.

Mark Linsey, the BBC's controller of entertainment commissioning, said: "The blind auditions worked extremely well. The live shows felt overly familiar – we are very used to that grammar [of live TV] and what people really enjoyed was something new and different."

The first series was also marked by a tit-for-tat scheduling war with Britain's Got Talent, presented by Ant and Dec, which will return to ITV two weeks after the The Voice, on 13 April.

The live shows of The Voice are expected to begin on 8 June, believed to be the same date as the Britain's Got Talent final. said the range of talent in the second series of The Voice was broader than the first. "There are more bad singers but the ones that are good are crazy amazing," he said.

But the rapper and TV star said he would not win a series like The Voice. Why not? "Because it's not called The Imagination. It's called The Voice. I would join a show called The Imagination that is welcoming to the kind of artist like myself.

"I write songs that I can sing, I can't sing other people's songs."

Quizzed who won the first series at the Edinburgh TV Festival last year, a senior BBC executive was unable to remember who won. The BBC – and the winning contestant – will be hoping for a more high-profile success this time round.

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John Plunkett

The GuardianTramp

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