The Choir, a series that was recently shown on BBC America in the USA is like a cross between American Idol and Glee. It’s an inspirational journey following one man’s desire to re-kindle the love for Choirs throughout Great Britain. We follow Gareth Malone, a professional choirmaster, as he attempts to invigorate schools and communities and help them focus on singing and introduces them to classic choral music.
The series shown in the US was actually originally shown as three separate series in the UK:
The Choir – 3 episodes and a ‘revisited’ episode.
Gareth goes to Northolt High School, a comprehensive school in Middlesex, England, and attempts to create a choir worthy of competing at the 2006 World Choir Games in China. As you watch a group of young teenagers grow and prosper under Gareth’s tutelage, and watch the way in which this inspirational man can motivate and captivate a whole choir, we see an amazing transformation in the teenagers, as they not only grow up, but form a love for music and gain confidence as they begin to produce a sound worthy of a choir – ultimately we follow them to the China Games, where we really learn that it’s more about ‘giving it a try’ than actually winning. The first miniseries is amazing, full of passion, disappointments and many heart rending real issues and moment – above it all though Gareth is incredible as he draws out the best from his choir.
A year later, Gareth revisits the school to check in on the students and see how their lives have changed.
The Choir: Boys Don’t Sing – 3 episodes and a ‘revisited’ episode.
In the second series, Gareth takes on the daunting task of going to an all boys school in Leicester, that is a renowned sports school and attempts to teach the boys that singing is for boys. He faces the same hurdles of inspiring the boys, but also has the additional problem of trying to get the teachers to buy into the choir.
We see more of the problems that Gareth encounters and can feel his frustration as he finds it difficult to get commitment from both the children and teachers. However, he is industrious and will not five in, and really tries to get all involved, including a group of ‘rappers’ who simply are not interested in choirs.
The culminating series again shows the great determination of Gareth and the inspirational power he has – he has the ability to bring out the best in people, and this tear-jerking show proves that if you have a goal in life, you can succeed.
The Choir: Unsung Town – 4 episodes.
In perhaps the best of the lot, Gareth goes to South Oxley, Watford and tries to form a community choir. South Oxley is perceived as being a rundown village and a dangerous one – Gareth hopes that with a decent choir, the community can start to dispel the myths about South Oxley.
This is perhaps the most daunting task Gareth has faced as he not only has to find talent in the community, but he also has to get the whole community to accept and be proud of a choir – this includes a reluctant and dubious local celebrity.
Gareth ends up forming three separate choirs, and slowly brings the community together, culminating in several performances, a recording debut at Abbey Road and ultimately a Sex Fest in 2009. Again Gareth refuses to give up and despite the many obstacles he faces, he obstinately forges on, providing much to laugh and cry about as we watch.
I am not afraid to admit that this show brought tears to my eyes many times. Just hearing the choirs produce such beautiful music after all their struggles, and seeing so many people getting pleasure out of being part of the choir is inspiring to me.
Gareth Maloney is a genius; not only does he have great musical talents himself, but he has the ability to extract the best out of normal people, and produce some pretty stunning music. More than that, he has a heart that makes him give everything to the project he is involved in, and the whole community (or school) benefit from his dedication and expertise.
The show is a joy to watch and my only complaint is that it was only thirteen episodes long. Who needs reality shows when you have real life shows like The Choir! If you haven’t seen it then you have to check it out!