On paper, thereâs no way it should work. A choral competition would be
a no-brainer for BBC2, or Radio 3. Stick it on BBC1 on a Sunday
evening as a summer replacement for Songs of Praise, and nobody would
bat an eyelid. But primetime on Saturday night? How on Earth could
that possibly work?
On the basis of last nightâs press launch for Last Choir Standing,
which starts on BBC1 on Saturday July 5 (TBC), I think thereâs every
chance that it will.
Produced by the same-house BBC Vision Studios production team behind
Iâd Do Anything and its ilk, Last Choir Standing is bursting at the
seams with enthusiasm and passion. The first weekâs show will see the
initial audition stage, as 60 of the choirs who submitted videotaped
applications are brought down to Londonâs Cadogan Hall to audition in
front of judges Russell Watson, Sharon D Clarke and Suzi Digby.
The preview clips we saw had a smattering of negative comments from
the judges, and the occasional deluded teenager crying into camera
about how this is their only chance (apart from, one presumes, all the
other TV show auditions they go along to). In the main, though, the
emphasis seems to be on finding quality and, perhaps more importantly
for the Saturday night audience, finding the fun in group singing. I
canât imagine there are too many other TV talent shows where the
judges bound on stage to sing along with the auditionees.
Along with the lightheartedness are some quite emotional stories
behind some of the choral groups, too. One group of women started
singing together only after they met on picket lines protesting at the
closure of the Timex factory in Dundee; a group of fishermen are using
their choir to cling on to a community which is disappearing as their
industry fails; a choir of disabled people from Northern Ireland talk
of how they enjoy focussing on a shared ability. In amongst the more
serious human interest stories, there are a group of women who sing
behind what appears to be a large furry pink handbag, childrenâs
choirs and a gay chorus who perform a capella versions of songs
Madonna and the Pussycat Dolls.
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