Emma Willis chats about her surprise at becoming a TV star, her fears that it could all suddenly end and how she stopped her daughter from taking part in The Voice Kids...
Emma Willis on the emotional rollercoaster that is The Voice Kids and why we’ll never see her taking on the pop charts…
As host of The Voice Kids, it seems Emma Willis is more nervous than many of the pint-sized singers auditioning for the show. “I always get invested and I kind of get as carried away with it as the contestants do,” said Emma, 41, mum to Isabelle, seven, Ace, five, and one-year-old Trixie.
“Being a mum, you’re constantly wondering: ‘What if that was my child up there?’ That in itself really gets to me and I’m kinda willing them on even more.”
As the blind auditions continue this week, more young hopefuls – aged between seven and 14 – will be singing their hearts out in the hope that superstar coaches will.i.am, Danny Jones and Pixie Lott will like what they hear enough to hit their button and turn those big, red chairs around.
Here the TV presenter tells us about the show, her rise to fame and her own singing abilities…
How does fronting The Voice Kids compare to The Voice UK?
“It sort of feels like doing my first series of The Voice UK all over again. Although it’s essentially the same show, my mindset had to change because we’re dealing with little people, so I knew I needed to be extremely sensitive. You’ve got to be sensitive around grown-ups as well, but they’ve lived a little bit more. I didn’t know what to expect, but this show feels really exciting, new and like the beginning again.”
You’re always on hand to offer support behind the scenes at the blind auditions. Have you been getting more emotional on this show, where it’s kids involved?
“Definitely. Not just in terms of whether they would get a turn from one of the coaches or not, but some of the stories we heard really got to me. Because they’re kids, you just want to protect them, don’t you? I’m just a sucker, I cry at the grown-up version, so putting kids on the show, it was literally waterworks everyday! But in a positive way as well, with excitement and joy when they got a turn. I’ve loved every second of it.”
Emma says she’s ‘loved every second’ of hosting The Voice Kids
Do you find the parents are more nervous than the kids?
“Kids are fearless and innocent, whereas grown-ups are a bit more highly strung so, yes, the parents have been more of a nervous wreck than the actual contestants. In fact, the child contestants also handle the process better than some of the grown-up contestants, to be honest. We were all really worried about how the kids would cope with not getting a turn – we’ve had a few tears from them but, all in all, they’ve handled themselves really well.”
What do you think new coaches Danny Jones and Pixie Lott bring to the show?
“Danny’s been doing this job since he was 15 or 16, so he knows what it’s like to have grown up in the music industry. Similarly, Pixie has been doing it herself since she was really young. They’re both incredibly nurturing, encouraging and really invested in the show. Danny and will.i.am have the most fantastic relationship, too. They adore each other and it’s like a total bromance – I love it, it’s great to watch.”
You know Danny really well from being in McBusted with your husband Matt, so has it been nice working with him?
“It’s been amazing working with him. Danny’s one of the nicest human beings you would ever wish to meet and he adores children.”
Emma loves having close friend Danny Jones on the show
As the host of a singing show, are we ever likely to catch you singing yourself?
“Ha, ha! Maybe karaoke very late at night when I’m drunk, but there will definitely be no cameras around or recording equipment. Do I like a bit of a sing-song? Oh, god yeah. Can I sing? No, absolutely not!”
As well as The Voice Kids, you’re currently hosting Big Brother on Channel 5, which has a more adult theme. Is it nice that your own kids can watch what you’re doing on ITV?
“Yes, it’s lovely. They watch The Voice UK anyway, but I think they’re going to be even more into this version given that it features kids. They can’t watch Big Brother – the only thing they know about Big Brother is the theme music – but they love The Voice especially my eldest, Isabelle.”
Emma meeting housemate Arthur on this year’s Big Brother
Have either Isabelle or Ace shown signs of wanting to be presenter like you, or a musician like Matt?
“Isabelle did ask me if she could audition for this show and I told her she wasn’t old enough, even though she is. But I’m pretty sure the rules don’t allow the host’s daughter to get fast-tracked! She wants to be something different every day, first she wants to be a teacher, then she wants to be a vet, then she wants to be a make-up artist. Her latest thing is: ‘I’d like to do what Daddy does?’ But she then says she doesn’t want to play bass guitar! She loves performing and she plays the piano, but who knows what kids want to do – they change their minds every five minutes, don’t they!”
Emma with her husband of nine years, Busted star Matt Willis
Your career as gone from strength to strength in recent years. Do you ever have ‘pinch yourself’ moments when you think about what you’ve achieved?
“Yep, every single day. And every single day I’m waiting for it to end. I have that awful impostor syndrome that’s becoming a popular phrase at the minute. I don’t know, I just think I’m winging it constantly. So I’m ready for it to end – although I really hope it doesn’t.”