The Voice might have proved an early success for the BBC, but talent shows are not the forum to produce great music, Jools Holland has warned.

The pianist and presenter of the BBC's long-running Later With ... series argued that music cannot aspire to the level of "art" if it is reduced to a mere competition. Holland, 54, told Radio Times: "Budding artists need a break, I suppose. But music's not like a competition. It's an art form.

"I wouldn't knock the competition shows if that's what people want to do, but there's a difference between having it like a game show and having it as something that connects with your spirit and moves you ... that's what music's supposed to be about."

The former member of Squeeze was backed by Paul Weller, who guests on Later With ... when it returns to BBC2 next week. Weller, whose new album Sonik Kicks topped the charts, called TV talent shows "Saturday night viewing for the masses", adding: "Would I be a judge? Would I hell."


However, The Voice appears to have prompted a radical rethink by Simon Cowell after the BBC One show beat his ITV1 series Britain's Got Talent in the ratings when the two programmes overlapped on Saturday night.

Cowell sent a congratulatory tweet to Danny Cohen, the BBC One controller, in response to viewing figures which showed that an average of 9.5 million people watched The Voice compared with 9.1 million for the ITV1 show.

Sources close to Cowell promised a new humility from the star. The Voice, in which the judges hear but do not see the auditioning contestants, has been praised for rejecting the mockery of hopeless contestants.

Cowell is said to be concerned that the best singing talent could in future audition for The Voice, leaving his biggest UK show, The X Factor, with a weak pool of potential applicants.

- Independent