The Voice judges: ‘We’re like a cool little family!’

TV Times talks to The Voice coaches Tom Jones, Rita Ora, Ricky Wilson and will.i.am (Saturday, BBC1)

So how’s the new job going, Rita?
“Amazing. I’m not going to lie, I was extremely nervous because the guys are all very experienced and I felt under pressure being the only female, but I watched how Kylie did it because I wanted to be prepared. I’m proud of what I have been doing so far, because I’ve surprised myself and listened to my instincts more than I would have usually.”

Were you pleased that Rita was joining you lads?
Tom: “I was delighted because there were a couple of other names and I thought: ‘Ohhh’ but then they said, ‘Rita’ and I thought, ‘Perfect’.”
Rita: “Aw, thank you Sir!”
Will: “Rita is great on this show. She is fun and edgy but she really searches for explanations for people who aren’t chosen to go through to the next round and she is thought-provoking. I’m proud of her because she was really afraid of coming on The Voice. She said, ‘What do I have to tell these singers, I’ve only had a couple of records out?’ But these people haven’t had any records out and they look to her.”

Have the boys given you advice?
Rita: “They didn’t give too much away! No, I am kidding, they were very helpful. They have been nice to me and have explained a lot of things because they were all newbies once. We’re like a cool little family.”

This is your second year Ricky, are you more confident this time?
Ricky: “I got away with it the first time and it is harder to get away with it a second time! I’m approaching it differently because I am not going with what I think I should go for, but what I want to go for. But getting in a suit and sitting in a chair is still terrifying and quite alien to what I do. It’s like my Saturday job! But I love it.”

Is it still hard to reject people?
Will: “I still find it heart-wrenching when you really don’t want to send someone home. We don’t know the back stories to these people’s lives or how they have been worrying about their performance and my words could scar them, so I try to be empathetic.”
Ricky: “There are lows but we keep coming back because the highs are really exhilarating when you can give someone what they want.”
Tom: “You feel concerned, because being performers ourselves we know what it is like to be up there and to go through auditions. When you’re counting on something and it doesn’t happen, it does affect you. But hopefully, even if the person doesn’t get through, they learn something, because they’re not going to be made fun of or made to look small on this show.”

Has anyone surprised you this time?
Tom: “We heard a young boy and to me he sounded like a seasoned female who was set in her ways so when I turned around and saw him it was a complete shock, I’ve never been that off before.”
Rita: “I knew it was a boy! There have been a few goosebump moments though.”
Ricky: “I heard a duo that was great. It was one of those times where you forget about the game totally. I don’t know what I would do with them or if I was the right person for them, but I had to turn.”

Have you learned to hold back on buzzing and turning too quickly?
Tom: “I am hesitant to push my button until I hear something different or strong and that is why I listen to as much of the song as possible. But if I like someone, I just press my button.”
Will: “Sometimes I want to turn but I have seen Ricky or Tom turn and I can feel in my heart that it is best that they should be with them because it is more of a fit.”
Ricky: “That’s why there are four of us with different talents because there is someone for each of us. Sometimes we all agree and that is when it gets messy but you never turn for someone because you don’t want them to go on someone else’s team. That’s like jumping on a grenade!”

The Voice starts on Saturday January 10 at 7pm on BBC1.