The first ever series of The Voice will go head to head with the latest judging line up on Britain’s Got Talent on Saturday nights from March 24.
A spokesperson for the BBC said today: “We took the unprecedented step of confirming our start date several weeks in advance to try and avoid clashes with other broadcasters.”
An insider added to The Sun earlier this week: “It is no coincidence that for the first time in four years they are [bringing] Britain’s Got Talent forward knowing The Voice would be set to transmit.
“They obviously want to get it up and running before The Voice starts. It is because they are so worried it will steal their Saturday night thunder.”
The new series of Britain’s Got Talent will feature two new judges in the form of Alesha Dixon and David Walliams, and will also welcome the return of Simon Cowell after last year’s ratings slump.
But sources at ITV insist that they’re not worried or trying to spoil The Voice, saying that BGT has always aired in the spring.
“We thought they were going to do it in the first quarter of the year and are surprised that they decided to pitch it against Britain’s Got Talent. We are the incumbent and they are playing it against us effectively,” an insider said.
An ITV spokesman added: “Britain’s Got Talent has been in an established slot in the Spring since 2008 and remains incredibly popular with our audience, averaging more than 11million viewers in 2011.”
Meanwhile, a BBC exec told the Daily Mirror that the it felt ITV were “desperate” for the new reality series not to take off, following success in both Holland and the USA.
“We are really disappointed,” they told the newspaper. “We have been really transparent about what we are doing and ITV seems to be scared of our show and desperate to try to mess with our plans.
“Now we are going to have to fight over time slots for both shows to try to avoid a clash. It seems very petty.”
Early schedules revealed today that the BBC currently plan to air The Voice opener from 7:15 to 8:30PM, while Britain’s Got Talent is due to start at 7:30, meaning a 45-minute overlap between the two shows.
Finalised schedules will be confirmed next week.