Sir Tom Jones is facing calls to quit as a coach on The Voice UK before the first episode of the latest series has even aired.
The 76-year-old has been criticised by eating disorder charities after he said former winner Leanne Mitchell “didn’t have the drive” to succeed, and put on more weight.
Jones told the Daily Mirror: “When she first came on, I thought about her trimming down a bit.
“Rather than take the opportunity of winning The Voice and having a chance of getting a record deal, which she did, she put on more weight. She didn’t have the drive.”
Jane Kenyon from support group Girls Out Loud told the newspaper she would sack Jones if it was up to her.
She added: “It isn’t the behaviour of someone we want to mentor up and coming talent.”
The Sex Bomb singer has only just returned to the singing show after he was axed by the BBC in 2015 before it switched to ITV.
He coached Mitchell to success in the show’s first series in 2012.
A source from The Voice said: “Tom was making a point about grasping an opportunity and genuinely meant no offence.”
The show is set to make its debut on ITV on Saturday night and is up against the BBC’s Gary Barlow-led Let it Shine which follows the search for a group of performers to cast as a boy band in a musical inspired by Take That.
It is presented by former Great British Bake Off host Mel Giedroyc and comedian Graham Norton, with Barlow sitting on the judging panel alongside Dannii Minogue and Martin Kemp.
However The Voice’s presenter Emma Willis has said the show should “not fight” with its new Saturday night counterpart.
The two talent shows will clash on Saturday nights with Let It Shine airing between 7pm and 8.25pm and The Voice UK hitting ITV screens for an hour from 8pm.
Speaking at The Voice UK’s launch, Willis, whose husband Matt Willis of Busted fame is working on Let it Shine, said she was a “big fan” of Barlow and Take That.
She told the Press Association: “I think the more feel-good shows we can have on television the better.
“It’s January – let’s not fight about it, let’s have a good one.”
Asked if there was room for more talent shows with The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent on the annual TV schedule, she said: “I think you can have that many if people want to watch it and at the minute people are still watching them. Let’s keep doing them.”
Jones will be joining will.i.am, who has appeared on the show since its inception, and newcomers Jennifer Hudson, who appeared on American Idol in 2003, and former Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale.
Of the new coaches, Willis said: “A perfect choice of judges because of their wealth of knowledge and the fact they are brilliant at what they do.
“Jennifer obviously comes from this kind of show.
“Will has been here from the beginning and I think has a genuine love for the show and really wants to find a stand-out performer. Tom is a legend and I am so happy he is back on the show. And Gavin is an absolute gent.
“A really great four-piece.”