The 5 million copy
bestselling series

The Taste v. The Voice

Last week, Channel 4 launched The Taste, which boasted a proud and buxom, bowed but unbroken, self-appointed domestic goddess and, er, two blokes. In it, contestants try to impress with their culinary skills, but the judges don’t see them cook the dish – they must make their decision blind, based on one spoonful of food – because it’s all about The Taste.

Then, on Saturday, on BBC1, The Voice returned for a third series, which boasted a joyful and energetic toothy pop singer and three other guys. The contestants must perform a song for the judges, but the judges don’t see them – because it’s all about The Voice.

Yep, on paper, they’re practically identical. But WHICH ONE IS BEST? Let’s swivel our chairs about, grab a spoon from the drawer and find out!


Both shows had more hype than a photoshopped Kardashian buttock, with expensive, splashy trails popping up all over the Christmas schedules. The trailer for The Voice featured Kylie Minogue, somebody called will.i.am, ‘Tangerine’ Tom Jones and a visibly Weight Watchered bloke from the Kaiser Chiefs in a maternity ward, looking in awe as a baby started singing in one of the cots. It was a nightmarish, Kakfa-esque vision of the future, when babies will be forced to sing Adele songs for food. The Taste trailer went down a more traditional route – a slo-mo shot of Nigella stuffing her face and having a full body orgasm. Simple, but effective.


Winner : The Taste


The Taste was all about Nigella, who took time out from her chocolate and hash-strewn personal life to be the star of the show. Originally a hit in the US, this was Nige on home turf, and she gave more patriotic cleavage than Mrs Miggins. Playing a cool matriarch role, Nigella held herself majestically like the figurehead on a ship, with additional leverage from Spanx, Rigby and Peller and possibly NASA. But The Voice had KYLIE. KYLIE!! Teeny weeny fun-sized Kylie, whose bum should be declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, who had to stand on a step to get into her big chair, who didn’t stop smiling the whole time, and who made Jessie J look like Eileen Grimshaw from Corrie after a plate of pickled eggs.

Winner: The Voice


Blinded by the megastar glare of the ladies, the male judges were having to work hard to get anyone to notice they’re weren’t just chairs. In The Taste corner were sexy American food expert Anthony Bourdain and sulky comedy French chef Ludo Lefebvre, who acted like Bruno Tonioli aged 5. On The Voice, joining stalwarts Tom Jones and silly billy will.i.am, was Ricky Wilson, formerly of the Kaiser Chiefs. Once he was a tubby man in a suit who looked like he lived on pale ale and Wotsits, but since undergoing some form of Herbalife-related detox epiphany, he is now lean, healthy looking and rather attractive. But Bourdain, who swears, smoulders and eats caviar quenelles for breakfast had the edge. He can season my reduction any day of the week!

Winner: The Taste

5 things TV bluffers really need to know

  1. Anthony Bourdain used to do a bit of er, unconventional cooking in his early days. ‘We used to soak hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms in honey overnight and then mix them into hot tea before work.’ WHOA.
  2. Will.i.am suffers from tinnitus. And when they listen to Black Eyed Peas, so does everyone else.
  3. Kylie is rumoured to be getting £500,000 for sitting in a swivel chair and laughing.
  4. The Voice began in the Netherlands and was originally called The Voice of Holland.
  5. Nigella isn’t all about drooling and spoon licking. She has a degree in Medieval and Modern languages from Oxford.


You can have as many celebrity judges as you want, but without the contestants, you may as well be watching Big Brother. The first episode of The Taste seemed to have forgotten that, however, paying only lip service to the cooks who got through to the first round. But The Voice went the full nine yards – sad stories about dead husbands, a singer with 2 chihuahuas, perky 16 year olds being given lifts to gigs with their roadie dads…Most moving was Sally, a 54 year old widow with a heartbreakingly beautiful voice, who gave up her music career to raise her family and was going for one last try. Dignity! Genuine pathos! Tom Jones in floods of Welsh tears! Who da thunk it?

Winner: The Voice


The Telegraph, who you’d think would be attached to Nigella like the biscuit crumbs to her bra, gave The Taste a paltry 2 stars, and called it silly and ‘foul mouthed.’ The Times also panned it, (geddit?). But that true indicator of TV success, Twitter, was mostly silent on the subject of The Taste, with many watching David Nicholl’s drama The 7.39 on BBC1. In contrast, on Saturday, social networks were alight with Kylie love and Ricky lust. The Huffington Post commented on the warmth, energy and humour of the judges. And when Kylie got excited and hit the red button on her chair with her bum, even the curmudgeonly trolls at the Mail had to admit it was ‘cute.’

Winner: The Voice


And finally, it’s all down to the figures, and – just for one moment – we’re not talking Nigella or Kylie’s perky extremities. The result? The first episode of The Voice got a whopping 8 million viewers, up 2 million on last year’s show. And while the US version of The Taste might have ensnared a respectable 6 million, The Taste UK got an unappetising 2m, despite Nigella doing all those sexy eyes. Uh-oh….



Happy Bluffing!

Lucy Sweet