Tom Jones heads for green, green grass of home after losing spot on The Voice

Boy George surely doesn’t want to hurt him but ex-Culture Club frontman replaces Welsh crooner as judge for fifth series of BBC1 singing show

It’s not unusual for TV presenters to get a little upset when they are unceremoniously dropped from a programme. And Sir Tom Jones, a stalwart of BBC1 talent show The Voice, was certainly that.

The singer criticised executives on the programme, claiming that he was sacked on Thursday “with no consultation or conversation of any kind”.

In a post on his Facebook page, he said: “Having been through plenty of transformations throughout the years, I support and admire creative change. But being informed, as a matter of duty and respect, is an important part of creative relationships. This substandard behaviour from the executives is very disappointing.”

Just last month, the 75-year-old said he was eager to return for the fifth series with fellow coaches and Ricky Wilson. However, the BBC revealed on Thursday that it had replaced him with 80s superstar Boy George, 54, in an effort to “shake things up”.

He will be joined by another newbie, 34-year-old singer Paloma Faith. She takes the place of fellow pop star Rita Ora, who deserted The Voice after only one series to join ITV rival The X Factor this year.

In his statement, Jones said: “In good faith, as part of the team, I’d put the time in my schedule to be involved in series five, as I’ve done so for the last four years. I will always admire the courage of the performers who participate in the show, as well as all the production staff who work tirelessly to make a great family viewing experience for the audience at home. I wish the show well.”

The Voice has now gone through nine celebrity coaches in just four years as producers struggle to perfect the format. With Jones’s departure, American rapper is the last of the original four coaches to remain.

The BBC did not explain the Welshman’s sudden departure, although BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore thanked him for his contribution to the show, which had record viewing figures of 8.7m last year.

She said: “Boy George and Paloma will bring a wealth of musical talent, expertise and unpredictability to our new coaching lineup. Their originality and flair will shake things up on the red chairs and take the audience by surprise. I’m thrilled to welcome back and Ricky, and would like to personally thank Sir Tom Jones for his dedication and commitment to the last four series.”

Jones had given no indication he was about to leave The Voice. In an interview last month, he said: “I hope to be sat back in my chair with and Ricky Wilson. We are all friends, I love being on the show and I would love to be back if they want me.”

Boy George – whose real name is George O’Dowd – first shot to stardom in the 1980s as the frontman of Culture Club and has sold more than 50m albums. He has continued to find success as a DJ.

He said: “I’m thrilled and excited to be a coach on The Voice UK. I’m a huge fan of the show and have watched and engaged with it from series one. If I can help someone to win, I will be delighted. What a wonderful opportunity to share my experiences and help someone move forward with their musical career. I can’t wait to sit in that chair.”

Despite proving a ratings success, The Voice has yet to produce an act to rival the success of The X Factor, which launched the careers of One Direction and Leona Lewis and other acts.

It is understood that the show is contracted to the BBC for one more series after the corporation paid a reported £22m in 2013 to renew its deal. However, it may come under threat amid growing pressure from MPs over the cost of buying foreign shows. It has been reported that the show may move to ITV after the broadcaster bought the Dutch company that produces the format, Talpa Media.

The BBC said: “The final decision on the coaches’ line-up for series five of The Voice was only taken on Wednesday and Tom’s team was informed early yesterday morning.

“We then announced it to the press so that it didn’t leak. This has been the same every year and no role was ever promised.”


Alasdair Glennie

The GuardianTramp

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