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Una is favourite with bookies for judge's seat on Voice of Ireland

Una Healy has emerged as one of the frontrunners as a judge on new RTE programme The Voice of Ireland.

The Saturdays crooner (29) has been installed as one of the firm favourites when it comes to the celebrity panel who'll be putting the nation's aspiring stars through their paces.

RTE has been doing its best to keep the finer details of the show under wraps until it releases its autumn/ winter 2011 schedule to the Irish media this Thursday.

But the flame-haired stunner has been hotly tipped to play a leading role in the new show, alongside The Commitments star Andrew Strong. The show is understood to have two presenters.

The Saturdays, who release their new single next month, don't have their next arena tour until December which means Una would have a gap in her schedule for filming.

It has also emerged that Westlife's Nicky Byrne could take centre stage on the programme in what would prove an instant ratings winner for fans of the chart-topping band.


Huge speculation about the female co-presenter has put Grainne Seoige's name into the mix, alongside No Frontiers star Kathryn Thomas.

"RTE is determined that the show will be a massive success and is pulling out all the stops to make sure the right people are on board. There has to be the right chemistry between all the judges -- not to mention with the presenters," said an insider.

Executive producer Larry Bass of ShinAwil productions has described the forthcoming programme as "the freshest twist on a talent format since Popstars".

"Other talent shows are more negative in the way they treat their talent. The Voice is all about promoting the contestants and we start at a much higher level of talent," he said.

Filming on the show is due to start as early as October and will occupy a similar slot to the now-axed All Ireland Talent Show.

A new format which offers a twist on traditional talent shows, the celebrity coaches pick a team of singers based purely on the quality of their voice. The winner will get a contract with Universal Music.