Over 18s only: Upset as The Voice says no to younger teens
Young Irish pop wannabes have been barred from entering RTE's talent show The Voice.
Children and young teens need not apply for the talent search as bosses have capped the age limit at 18.
This is a move which contrasts sharply with its predecessor, The All-Ireland Talent Show, which lasted for three series and was won by children each time.
It also puts the programme at odds with The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, which encourages younger participants to apply.
Finalists last year included boyband One Direction, most of whom were under 18, and Cher Lloyd, who was 17 at the time of the competition last year.
Dublin stage schools have expressed their disappointment at the programme's decision to stop children and young teenagers from auditioning.
Karen Smyth from Pixie's Stage School said the rules will ensure that a lot of Ireland's talent will be excluded.
"It probably should be dropped to over 16s. There are a lot of 16-year-olds who would like to have the chance to do it.
"They're just as mature as most 18-year-olds out there and I'm sure they would have liked the chance to show their talents and to go on TV and get their 15 minutes of fame."
A spokesperson for Westside Stage School agreed that the limit is restrictive for singing wannabes.
"We were hoping that they'd accept younger students because we have younger students that really would have liked to go. We have some fab singers.
"We'll have two or three students going for it but...we'd have another 10 students going for it if it was open to the over 16s."
Mary Simpson, from the Simpson Stage School, added: "It's ridiculous. We have fabulous little singers. This doesn't give the younger ones a chance and it's surprising."
An RTE spokesperson explained that the rules apply because "it is part of the format rules globally (for any country buying The Voice), as all performers must sign a legal contract as winners and work full time on their career."
The Voice has been a massive hit in the US and Holland.
The closing date for applications is Monday, September 19, and those successful will be called to take part in closed auditions in Dublin from September 22.
The show will be hosted by Kathryn Thomas and Eoghan McDermott, and the winner will bag a recording contract with Universal Music.
There has been no decision made on the judging panel yet, but it is understood that show bosses are trying to woo La Toya Jackson for the show.