If the first series of The Voice on BBC1 was an actual voice it would have probably begun in a rich persuasive baritone before spluttering out into the consumptive wheeze of a Victorian whelp pleading for more alms. By the end of the run the show had lost half of its original audience, rendered insensible by the flatulence of the format and perhaps too occupied spinning the sofa towards the opposite wall.
More than any other member of the cast, the rotating chair experienced the fickle favour of the viewership. Starting life as a lowly piece of office furniture, the souped-up chair was feted as one of the rare successes of the show, with more panache and star quality in its swivel than any of the contestants in front of it. Or behind it, depending on the whim of the judge.
But during the latter stages its fame faded, relegated to its primary purpose: being sat on. Bolted in an outward aspect, the chair was unable to turn back to its default setting and away from the unfolding horror on the stage. It may have been kinder to the judges to loosen the screws and allow them the option of a full 360°. Especially throughout the battle rounds, the infernal noise of which was worse than the sound of high-octane parental sex.
The participants have also trod the undulating path of celebrity. At first they were lionised by the judges, assured they were the next big thing in music, showered with extravagant praise that given their actual pop fate (the winner Leanne Mitchell reached no. 45 with her debut single) now sounds as ridiculous as being told "you're literally the best person in the entire world". It will be intriguing to see if the panels downsize their predictions this time round, something more on the scale of "you're probably going to sell quite a few records" or "based on that performance, I think you're going to be massive in Suffolk".
Poor sweet Leanne, her dreams scuttled by the naïve thought which ignores that a pop star is made from more than the noise that comes from within it. The purity of the concept has been corrupted anyway by a preliminary audition process which seemingly wheedled out anyone with a plain normal face, instead pushing forward bald women, human-shihtzu hybrids and someone who looked like a fat God to take their place among the more conventionally appealing competition.
The makers insist that the requisite changes have been made to stem the alarming haemorrhage of viewers but it remains to be seen whether they've fixed the one epic oversight from the first spin, that being disregarding the unwritten clause of the channel's public service charter that states that all BBC talent shows should be lovably crap, like the rudimentary drawing of a house a child might bring home from nursery school. The Voice has grasped at something more bombastic, more boastful like its domineering cousin The X Factor. It has literally gone above its station.
The template should be provided by Strictly Come Dancing, a programme in which contestants were genuinely exhilarated to qualify for a trip to Blackpool. Strictly revived a grizzled format that died from exhaustion years ago and sequined it with mid-range celebrity contestants, its staples being cricketers and breakfast show presenters. It then asked its audience to tolerate the ill-timed comedy of a man whose best before date expired in 1972. Strictly represents a less ambitious time for talent show contestants, in which the only prize was a trophy to be handed back after a year. Leanne Mitchell would now kill to hand back that trophy.