Summer Series: How The Voice exploded onto Seven’s slate

The Voice

• Mediaweek looks back at the most notable stories of 2021

At the end of 2020, it was announced that The Voice was jumping networks from Channel Nine to Channel Seven

Helped by a massive run in from the  Tokyo 2020 Olympics, The Voice was a major success – in its first season at its new home, the show  averaged over 1 million viewers per episode. The final episode had 1.292m people watching, while the winner announcement had 1.383m tuning in.

Taking their places on the spinning red chairs this year were the coaches: multiple ARIA and Grammy Award winner Keith Urban, UK hit machine Rita Ora, singer-songwriter Guy Sebastian and, making her coaching debut, singer and actor Jessica Mauboy.

The 10th season of The Voice was hosted (once again) by Sonia Kruger.

Aug 6: Sonia Kruger on what Channel Seven has brought to The Voice

By Tess Connery

The 2021 season of The Voice will be the first season to air on Seven, after the huge announcement last year that the format was moving from its previous home on Nine. 

In the unique position of working on the show across both networks after making the shift herself, Sonia Kruger returns to host the show in its 10th season.

The Voice

Sonia Kruger

Mediaweek spoke to Kruger about what’s different for The Voice on Seven, working with covid restrictions, and the new coaching lineup.

The Voice on Seven

Kruger says that it was difficult leaving The Voice when she came to Seven, but returning to the show has been a joy.

“When I left Nine to go back to Seven I was excited, but the one thing that did tug at my heartstrings a little bit was having to say goodbye to The Voice. About halfway through the year James Warburton called me and said ‘Guess what? We’re going to be doing The Voice’. I nearly fell off my chair!

“I was just so happy to get back out on that stage. We do some beautiful, big, shiny floor shows in Australia, but to me The Voice has always been the pinnacle. It’s just got that international flavour, the coaches bring that to it. You’re sharing the stage with people like Keith Urban, Rita Ora, Jess Mauboy, and Guy Sebastian. Then to uncover some incredible talent is cream on the cake really.”

Kruger says that Seven’s version of the show has gone back to the basics of the format.

“What I like about The Voice reimagined now at Channel Seven is that they’ve gone back to that grassroots of looking for the diamond in the rough, the people you would not expect to have great singing voices. They’ve just found some absolute crackers.”

Filming through Covid

Making any show in 2021 will almost certainly involve covid protocols, and Kruger says The Voice was no different. 

“We were covid compliant in that we were all tested on a regular basis, social distancing, and wearing masks. We were in that time where audiences were allowed, but there was a limited number per square meter. So we were lucky that we could have an audience, which we did. And they were very vigilant with testing and anyone who had symptoms. 

“There was one day there where we were shooting the blind auditions and I started to feel unwell and they were like ‘go, leave now, go have a covid test’. So I did – it was nothing, it was a head cold and I was negative – but as we all have to be, they were so vigilant in order to get the production finished. You can’t run the risk of it being shut down because somebody has gotten sick and has passed the virus on.”

2021 Coaches 

This season has come with a dramatic shakeup to the coaching lineup. Guy Sebastian and Keith Urban are returning to the chairs, while Rita Ora and Jess Mauboy join for the first time. Kruger says the new coaches have settled into their roles with ease.

“Rita Ora has worked internationally on The Masked Singer and I have a massive girl crush on her, let’s just put that out there now. She’s very intelligent, and she is stunning and super talented as well. She’s the trifecta. I just loved hearing her pitch and just talk about singing artistry in general.

“Jess is such a sweetheart. I think she was nervous, and she said this herself, it’s nerve-wracking to be in the chairs. But if anyone can relate to how those contestants feel, it’s Jess because she was one of those people 15 years ago. She really has this lovely warmth about her that people gravitate towards.

“Keith originally coached on the show when The Voice first started in Australia, but I didn’t get to work with him back then. I’m really glad that he’s back now, because he is just one of the most generous performers out there. He’s a superstar.

“Guy is a proven entity on the show. He’s a real prankster, I think people don’t understand that Guy spends most of his time trying to make me laugh when I’m not supposed to be laughing! So he keeps me very entertained.”

The Voice coaches 2021

Season 10

This year marks the 10th season for The Voice in Australia, with Kruger saying the sign of a quality show is to get to 10 seasons and to still have a freshness to it. Keeping things fresh this year are a couple of changes to the rules.

“Now there are unlimited teams,” says Kruger. “The coaches can take as many people as they want through from the blind auditions as they want to, but the problem is that they then face the cut and that’s quite brutal. You can take 20 people through but you have to whittle it down to five people. It’s up to the coaches how many people they take through but at the end of the day they know they’ve got to get down to that number. 

“There’s also The Block which has been introduced, and that is where one coach can block another coach from pitching for an artist. The mischievous side of me loves that because they don’t know who’s blocked them, but they know why. It’s a strategic play, let’s just put it that way. 

“That has given the show a new freshness. It’s in a new location, we shot it all in Carriageworks in Sydney. There’s been the inclusion of augmented reality, which I think visually will make it even more stunning. So there’s a lot of new elements in this series of The Voice.”

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