As BBC1’s hit new talent show The Voice reaches its live finals (Saturday & Sunday), coach Danny O’Donoghue tells us what is in store…

Are you nervous about the live rounds?
“I am, but if you thought it was good already, wait until you see these shows. We’re stepping up another notch and not just shaping voices but shaping artists. More than other talent shows, the lives will show a clear direction for these performers because they’ve figured out their genre. There won’t be a Sixties or Seventies week, they’ll sing songs in their genre chosen by them in collaboration with us.”

Is it getting more competitive?
“It is like a big wedding cake – there are layers of competition. You want your singers’ performances to be great, but we also perform with our teams and you want that performance to be great, too. It is all done in the spirit of music, though. There is nothing bitchy about it.”

Now that everyone has seen what the acts look like, can it still be just about the voice?
“Everything has to be taken into account, because that is the industry now, but not to the extent where it is completely driven off image. We’re showing that you don’t have to look like a model to be a singer. Viewers know about singing – they can tell who looks good but can’t sing. The level of talent on The Voice has blown everyone out of the water.”

How do you feel about the rivalry with Britain’s Got Talent?
“Everyone loves a derby between two giants and I’m over the moon at the response we’ve had. The BBC knew it would do well, but not this well. I’m proud, too. Shows like this change the game in TV, bringing families back together around the box. It offers a real window into the industry and to artists in different stages of their career.”

It looks like there is really good chemistry between the coaches, too…
“There is. Tom is so easygoing, Will is so versatile and Jessie so fresh. I’m glad viewers get to see them just as I do backstage. We really have a group of people who know what they are talking about. Jessie has insight and a trajectory that I haven’t seen in the industry for a long time, I’ve been in a proper band, Will has 10 years of experience on me, and then Tom has even more.”

How do you rate your team’s chances?
“I am really happy with who I have. I am not running scared and I am excited that the whole of the UK is going to get to see what I have been seeing over the past few weeks. They are nice, genuine people who I would like as an artist myself.”

The press has reported that some the artists have previously been on other shows or released records. Do you think that’s a problem?
“So what? It doesn’t matter that they got a first chance and this is their second chance. I am the poster boy for that, I had a band that failed and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been given a second chance. I have been in the industry for 15 years now and I have seen the talent that is out there and that some of it has been held down or not presented in the right light.”