Sir Tom Jones surprised an audience at the launch of the new series of talent show The Voice by saying that the quality of this year's contestants was "s***."
Alongside his fellow coaches on the show, Sir Tom (74) finished will.i.am's opening remark that "the talent this year is…" by appearing to utter the word "s***".
Despite being a TV hit, the winners of the first two series have failed to enjoy big success in the charts while last year's victor releases his album in March.
The 2013 winner was Andrea Begley from Co Tyrone. The BBC1 show, which returns on Saturday, has been criticised for failing to produce a major star.
Asked if that indeed was his view, Sir Tom confirmed he had said the word but added: "It just slipped out. I hope it wasn't a Freudian slip."
However, as word spread of the gaffe, Sir Tom entered a huddle with the show's PR minders.
He explained: "Just to clear this up, when I said the talent this year was s***, it was a joke. I like a joke.
"And when I said I hope that's not a Freudian slip, that was a joke on top of a joke. It was not a Freudian slip. The talent this year is excellent. I think we have a great variety of singers."
He added: "We have a great variety of singers, no copycats. There are some strong singers on there and they're all different."
This year Rita Ora replaces Kylie Minogue on the panel, which again features Ricky Wilson of Kaiser Chiefs. Sir Tom said the lack of chart success for The Voice UK's winners was "the BBC's headache".
Last year's winner Jermain Jackman, who releases his debut album in March, said: "I'm working hard to bring some success. It takes time to write an album."
The Voice is regarded as a success by the BBC, regularly attracting eight million viewers.
Ora admitted to feeling as nervous as the singers on The Voice as her debut on the TV show was unveiled. She admitted: "I'm watching it (for the first time), so I'm so nervous right now."