ITV have accused the BBC of dirty tricks for overrunning The Voice UK for 3 minutes on Saturday night, in an apparent bid to win the ratings war.
And it seemed to work, with the BBC series edging out Britain's Got Talent with 9.9 million viewers to 9.3 million.
But ITV exec Mike Large complained on Twitter: “Was The Voice tonight live? Surely that can be the only reason BBC1 overran by 3 minutes... those kind of overruns only normally tend to happen on live shows, don’t they?”
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, an ITV source added “This is out and out dirty tricks. The BBC always say they are above this kind of thing. Clearly they are not. They are outrageous.”
A source at the BBC however back: “Can they not see the irony that they manufactured this whole situation by bringing their show forward by four weeks and installing the half-hour overlap?
“The simple truth is the peak figures were not affected by the overlap and we won by a full one million viewers.”
The insider also revealed that the battle round shows were originally 100 minutes long each, and had to be cut back in order to avoid a bigger clash with BGT.
“We didn’t want to look as though we were taking their admission of defeat and rubbing their noses in it," the source explained. “But the need to lose 10 minutes from each show explains why it overran slightly.”