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The first six finalists for the live heats of The Voice have been chosen by coaches will.i.am and Tom Jones following Saturday night’s show.

In the first of a double bill of weekend shows, Tom chose to take Mike Ward, Joseph Astopol and Alys Williams to the live shows ahead of fellow hopefuls Jamie Bruce, Cherelle Basquine, Ragsy and Adam Barron.

The veteran singer sent Mike directly to the live shows – while Alys beat Jamie and Cherelle in her heat, and Joseph triumphed over Ragsy and Adam in his.

“The person I’m going to send straight through, you know they are doing something that is in their heart, and not listening to what their peers are telling them,” Sir Tom said of his decision.

“It’s been a hard decision but the one I’m sending straight through is Mike Ward.”

He later admitted that Joseph had reduced him to years with his rendition of Donny Hathaway’s A Song For You.

“I have to go with what my ears tell me,” Tom said. “He has an incredible voice – even that wasn’t the best performance he can do and it was still good enough to get him through.”

Will.i.am, meanwhile, sent Leah McFall directly through to the live shows – saying she was ‘the best artist I’ve ever ever seen in the UK for a long time.”

However he was faced with an agonising decision when it came to choosing either reggae singer Moni Tivony or Essex girl Leanne Jarvis.

In the end, despite Moni having been the rapper’s favourite to stay, he chose Leanne – saying that Moni had been “one catrillion times better in rehearsal”.

My head coming in here was made up,” will said. “I wanted Moni Tivony to go through – that is what my head was saying. But I can’t do that, so I’m going to chose Leanne.”

Former Cleopatra singer Cleo Higgins was the final member of his team to progress to the next stage.

The Voice continues on Sunday evening with Jessie J and Danny O’Donoghue choosing their acts for the finals.