Screentime Shinawil are to begin production on series two of ‘The Voice of Ireland’ this October with presenter Kathryn Thomas the only returning member of last season’s stars to have signed up for the upcoming RTÉ series so far.
The fate of the four coaches, Kian Egan, Sharon Corr, Niall Breslin and Brian Kennedy, along with that of behind-the-scenes presenter Eoghan McDermott, is yet to be decided.
Season one series producer Linda McQuaid will not be returning due to her commitments on Screentime Shinawil’s other TV format ‘Masterchef’, with Eugenia Cooney taking her place and Ailbhe Maher also producing.
Series two of ‘The Voice of Ireland’ meanwhile is set to use many of the production crew from season one, with Chris Power and Tony Gregory returning from ‘The Voice UK’ to direct again.
The production team are currently getting stuck into the inundation of contestant applications they are currently receiving. Applications opened last Friday (August 10), with first stage auditions due to be held in September. The unique blind auditions will be filmed at The Helix in Dublin in October.
Speaking to IFTN at the RTÉ autumn launch last week, former ‘Winning Streak’ presenter Thomas expressed her desire for the original four coaches as well as McDermott’s return, but said her own fate was sealed when she “signed on the dotted line.” The Carlow-native added: “I know there are talks ongoing but I don’t know who’s coming back so I’m sort of looking forward to finding out like everybody else.”
Thomas revealed she “loved” working on series one of the hit reality show, despite it being a 17-week long slug. “I loved it, it was brilliant, we started out with 708,000 viewers and finished with 709,500 over 17 weeks. It was brilliant, a huge success for RTÉ and brilliant for me to work on something like that, I’d never done that amount of live before, and it’s a long run, 17 weeks, but I loved it,” she said.
Larry Bass, chief of Screentime Shinawil, brought ‘The Voice’ to Ireland after former commissioning editor for entertainment at RTÉ Eddie Doyle, now commissioning editor for RTÉ Two, commissioned the first series. The Irish version aired after the US version and before the UK one. The original format lies with John de Mol, of Netherlands-based global format house Endemol. De Mol previously brought ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Deal or No Deal’ to our screens.
Bass is due to fly to Amsterdam at the end of the month with RTÉ entertainment commissioning editor Bill Malone to participate in a Talpa Convention, called by de Mol in order to inject a new lease of life into the international show. Producers from the US, UK, Netherlands, and the other 40 territories of the format show are expected to attend.
Comparing the Irish version with the BBC’s version, Thomas says: “I think people got to know the format of the show, before we went live with it. It was interesting for an Irish audience to see a reality music show which had little production things in place that hadn’t been seen before, like the chair turning, like the button pressing, like the battles in the ring.”
Doyle says the Irish production values impressed the crew working on the British version, despite RTÉ and Shinawil’s budget being miniscule compared to the UK national broadcaster’s. “In production terms, I know from talking to Linda McQuaid (producer on series one) that the BBC came over to look at how ‘The Voice’ was being made in Ireland because it’s one of the best executions of it internationally. [We have] faster turn around times, less budget than the UK version, but still manage to, in a lot of cases, get a better product in terms of the atmosphere and quality of programming. The Brits considered our version of it the one to aspire to.”
Thomas, well-experienced in the television field having fronted her own show, ’No Frontiers’ for 12 series, making it the longest-running lifestyle series on RTÉ, said she was impressed by the production values on ‘The Voice of Ireland’. “[Working on a live show], it’s mental, I’d come from freelance, where you’re literally working with one camera man, one sound man or woman, producer, director, or in ‘No Frontiers’ days there would be you, who’d do sound and present and there was some other person who’d shoot, direct and produce,” said Thomas.
IFTA-winner Thomas has since cemented herself as one of RTÉ’s most trusted presenters, as she also revealed her return to ‘Operation Transformation’ at the station’s autumn launch. The lifestyle show, formerly co-hosted by Thomas and the late Gerry Ryan, will return to screens for a sixth season later this year.
Season one of ‘The Voice of Ireland’ saw Carlow teacher Pat Byrne, from Team Bressie (Niall Breslin, former frontman of Irish band The Blizzards and now solo singer songwriter) crowned ‘The Voice of Ireland’ last April, with the first five episodes of season one pulling in an average of 701,000 viewers a week.
To apply for the second series of ‘The Voice of Ireland’ click here.