The Voice lost out in the ratings to Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway when it returned for its second series this weekend.

According to early overnight estimates the first show of the new series – which saw the return of the ‘blind’ auditions – picked up an average audience of 6.2m viewers between 7pm and 8.35pm.

And the show hit a peak audience of 8.1m – representing a considerable drop from the first show of the first series, which scored average viewing figures of 8.4m and a peak rating of 9.6m despite going head-to-head with Britain’s Got Talent.

By contrast Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, which was screened on ITV1 at the same time, picked up an average audience of 6.7m and a peak audience of just under 7m.

However the figures from those watching on the catch-up service ITV + 1 from 8pm saw the show’s total average audience leap to over 7m, and its peak rating soar to 8.2m.

The first round of The Voice saw seven acts make it through to the ‘battle round’ stage – with Welshman Ash Morgan and West End performer Matt Henry tipped as early front-runners.

Saturday Night Takeaway, meanwhile, featured Ant and Dec pulling a prank on an unsuspecting Piers Morgan, as well as an appearance from Simon Cowell.

The show, which will be back for its 11th series in 2014, has been hugely popular with viewers – and also triumphed over BBC One’s Let’s Dance For Comic Relief.

The Voice will face a further battle for ratings next month when Britain’s Got Talent returns.