The Voice may be facing axe as RTE seeks new shows for Sunday nights
The of the Voice of Ireland on RTE appears uncertain as the search for a new entertainment show gets under way.
Management at Montrose are seeking alternative programme ideas for the popular Sunday night slot currently filled by The Voice, which costs round €2m per series.
But RTE is adamant that the move does not mean the show hosted by Una Foden, Kian Egan, Bressie and Rachel Stevens will not return for a fifth season.
It said it does not commission the show for another season until its present series is over, so a final decision on the future of The Voice will be made later this year.
"The Voice is currently in its fourth season and is performing very strongly. It is standard practice to look at alternatives for any returning RTE series which has been on air for this length of time," said an RTE statement to the Herald.
The station said it is best practice for broadcasters to look at ways of improving and refreshing their schedules and it was currently looking for expressions of interest from independent companies for potential programmes for the Sunday 6.30pm slot.
An RTE spokeswoman said the station is very pleased with the viewership figures.
"The Voice of Ireland is regularly attracts close to 600,000 viewers," she said.
More than 570,000 tuned in to the first show this season, rising to more than 635,000 by week six.
Meanwhile, things are heating up on the show as the first batch of contestants progressed to the live shows - with three Dubliners bagging a place on stage.
Patrick Donoghue (insetn left), from Donnycarney, will face the live shows after his mentor Una Foden said he had the potential to become an international star.
"I'm just a little Dubliner who works in Dunnes, I never thought I'd get told by such a hugely successful popstar that I could be an international star," the singer said.
"I don't look like your conventional popstar. I think that now is the time for the fatties," Patrick joked.
Patrick was one of nine people to get through to the live shows. Dubliners Dean Forrester (21) and 28-year-old John Bonham from Santry also progressed.