The Voice in struggle to be heard

BBC1’s new series The Voice could go head to head with ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent for as long as 50 minutes as the launch-night spat between the broadcasters stepped up a gear yesterday.

Both shows are to begin on 24 March and draft schedules exchanged by TV bosses show there will be a hefty overlap.

The BBC has already been angered by ITV1’s decision to screen BGT on the same night as The Voice’s debut, nearly three weeks earlier than BGT traditionally airs.

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The BBC is investing millions in its new singing show featuring judges will.i.am, Jessie J, Sir Tom Jones and The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue.

Latest plans put The Voice with a 7pm start, while BGT is due to begin at 7:30pm. Both have already moved 15 minutes earlier than originally pencilled in to start. First the BBC went earlier, to reduce the overlap, but then ITV seemed to follow suit.

Last week, BBC sources accused their rivals of competitive scheduling. But ITV insiders blamed the BBC for airing its new show in the spring, when BGT has aired for the past four years.