This U.S. premiere, BAFTA award-winning series, has spellbound UK audiences and created an unlikely reality star in choirmaster Gareth Malone as he attempts to recruit a choir in the most unlikely of settings. From schools with no tradition of music to blue collar neighborhoods in need of a community focus, Malone is a man on a mission. It’s an emotional journey of shocks and surprises, challenges and rewards with heartwarming results. At BBC America’s session at TCA in January, Gareth achieved the unthinkable by getting the journalists in attendance on stage to sing a rollicking rendition of “Barbara Ann.” This was a testament to both Gareth’s fearless passion to unite people in song and his ability to make it fun for everyone. The Choir premieres Wednesday, July 7, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
From hit TV singing contest shows, to musical based films and television series to millions of downloaded songs – singers are front and center. It could be said singing is everywhere, but where are the choirs? Classically trained Malone embarks on a groundbreaking journey to save the choir and prove it’s cool to sing together. Malone dives deep into the community’s culture discovering where classical music stopped and what will ignite these people to be inspired to unite and sing.
“Bringing people together for a common purpose and singing some of the most beautiful music that’s ever been written – I think everyone should have access to that,” says Gareth Malone. His three projects on this mission will challenge him to create choirs capable of performing at the world’s biggest singing competition – the World Choir Games in China, Britain’s acclaimed Royal Albert Hall and at a choral festival staged by Malone with hopes of attracting thousands of spectators to the struggling town of South Oxhey.
The first project begins when Gareth finds a school ready to let him try to turn his dream into a reality. Here he must start the first choir in Northolt High School’s history, and in only nine months transform 25 novice singers into a choir capable of competing at The Choir Games in China. Has he bitten off more than he can chew? For student Chloe Sullivan, whose shyness has caused her to have disciplinary problems, Gareth’s ability to pinpoint her issue and his refusal to give up on her, proves this is a life changing venture. But will this group of students, many with records of truancy, underachievement and very raw singing abilities, overcome the odds and secure a place in the world competition?
Gareth’s next project leads him to Lancaster School, a large boys-only school where singing is a dirty word and even teachers are challenging his campaign to build a choir. The school has no real tradition of music and no formal choir. The kids have grown up listening to R&B and rap – worlds apart from Gareth’s classical upbringing, but he hopes to prove that singing is fun and can have a positive impact on their lives. Over two semesters, Gareth battles entrenched attitudes of both students and faculty, embraces a group of beatboxing boys, attempts to inspire a naturally talented teenager, Imran Siddique, whose antics threaten more than his future as a singer, and build a 100-strong choir good enough to perform at the Royal Albert Hall.
On his final project, Gareth attempts to prove that beyond his ability to teach a group of kids to sing, he can lift the spirits of the entire community of South Oxhey. The town is struggling to shake off a poor reputation that stretches back decades. Here, with the help of members of the local boxing club, he builds both adult and children’s choirs and then realizes his overall vision for a single, grand South Oxhey choir. As a culmination of his nine-month project, Gareth decides to stage a choral festival in South Oxhey, which he hopes will attract an audience of thousands from the surrounding area. Has his choir helped change peoples’ perception of South Oxhey and has he finally convinced the town to value their new choir?
“What I really love about choir is it’s a great team effort. You work so intensively with that group and you’ll carry that experience and piece of music with you for the rest of your life,” says Gareth Malone.
At the heart of this series are people’s journeys overcoming fear, ripping down barriers and uniting to build something greater than they ever could have imagined.
BBC AMERICA brings audiences a new generation of award-winning television featuring news with a uniquely global perspective, provocative dramas, razor-sharp comedies, life-changing makeovers and a whole new world of nonfiction. BBC AMERICA pushes the boundaries to deliver high quality, highly addictive and eminently watchable programming to viewers who demand more. It is available on digital cable and satellite TV in more than 67 million homes.
Choirmaster Gareth Malone
Executive producer Jamie Isaacs
The Choir is a Twenty Twenty Television production for the BBC
WHAT THE BRITISH PRESS SAID
“As profoundly a moving piece of television as has ever been made” The Independent
“One of the most enthralling, informative and uplifting reality series yet made” The Times
“Gareth’s determination and belief has paid huge dividends, bringing together the community and transforming lives” The Express
“This is another astonishing, inspiring and moving success story for the amazing Gareth Malone” Daily Mail
“Jamie Oliver might have changed school dinners with his TV series but Gareth Malone showed that we are more, much more than we eat.” Evening Standard
“[A] compelling sociological experiment… Oh Gareth, how much more love can we give you? None for you have it all.” Daily Telegraph
NORTHHOLT HIGH SCHOOL
Choirmaster Gareth Malone is a man on a mission. He believes Britain’s schools are bursting with untapped singing talent and he’s determined to prove it – by starting a competitive choir from scratch in a school that’s never had one before. But there’s a twist. He wants to get them good enough to compete in the choir Olympics – The World Choir Games in China – by the end of the school year. Gareth’s choice of school is Northolt High, an everyday school, and the auditions are an exhausting affair. From wannabe R&B divas to timid eleven-year-olds singing nursery rhymes, Gareth sees one hundred and sixty kids from which he needs thirty. There are some real gems, including fifteen year old Chelsea Campbell. But it soon becomes apparent behind the slick voice is a dubious school record. She’s being transferred to another school because of ‘behavior issues’. For the lucky few there are ecstatic scenes when they are given the news they’ve made it through auditions. But then the real work begins. The group has just four weeks to produce singing good enough to qualify for China. Gareth battles poor attendance, lack of commitment and some terrible singing by the boys in his bid to realise his dream. Has he bitten off more than he can chew?
Premieres Wednesday, July 7, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
It’s the start of the spring term and Gareth has his work cut out. The choir still doesn’t know if it’s qualified for the World Choir Games and Gareth thinks their singing is getting worse, not better. Most notably the boys’ sections. Drastic action is required and Gareth goes on the hunt for some more broken voices. But it’s a struggle to convince the boys to overcome their horror of singing in public. With Gareth’s professional reputation on the line, he re-auditions the whole choir. It’s a bid to instil some much-needed commitment and competitive spirit in his charges. There are some tough choices to be made and the kids don’t like it one bit. It’s also the choir’s first attempt at singing classical music – Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’. Gareth has booked them to make their first public performance at the end of term – in front of their own school. The kids are terrified. Finally, there’s an official letter from the organizers of the World Choir Games. Is Gareth’s dream still on track. Or have they failed to make the grade?
Premieres Wednesday, July 14, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
Everyone’s attention is focused on the World Choir Games in China in just a few months time. The kids have to design the outfits they’ll wear on stage. The boys go for a Bruce Lee jacket for the boys, while the girls get an off-the-shoulder number. But not everything is going to plan. As Gareth ups the ante, some of the kids can’t take the pressure. There are bust-ups and walk-outs in rehearsal, and the choir’s very future hangs in the balance. In a last-ditch attempt to bring them back together Gareth takes the whole choir on a bonding mission – camping in the Kent countryside. There’s also the opportunity for a sing-song round the campfire. After a tear-jerking dress rehearsal in front of their parents, the choir jet off to China. There they are struck by the sheer scale of the World Choir Games and the standard of the opposition. Everyone’s nervous and their hard work comes down to one single performance.
Premieres Wednesday, July 21, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
Gareth returns to Northolt High School, one year after he set up the choir. The group of 25 students were transformed from singing novices into a choir good enough to compete in the world’s biggest singing competition – the World Choir Games in China. Since then, several students have joined their local choirs – Chloe now prefers singing classical over R&B. She’s also left school and got her first job and credits Gareth with giving her the confidence to make that step. The students reunite for one final performance in the school hall with many of them admitting they miss the choir.
Premieres Wednesday, July 28, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
BOYS DON’T SING
Gareth’s second project leads him to Lancaster School, a large boys-only school where singing is a dirty word and even teachers are challenging his campaign to build a 100 member choir. The school has no real tradition of music and no formal choir. The kids have grown up listening to R&B and rap – worlds apart from Gareth’s classical upbringing, but he hopes to prove that singing is fun and can have a positive impact on their lives. First he looks to change attitudes at the school and
Premieres Wednesday, August 4, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
After the half-term break, a re-energized Gareth returns to Lancaster School. It’s a critical time – he needs to get solid foundations in place before the long summer break, or else he’ll be starting from scratch in the Fall. Gareth knows that he’s going to have to be more bold – and cunning – if he’s to have any hope of success. He takes a leap of faith and decides to put on Lancaster’s first summer musical concert. It’s a big request, especially amid the demands of a hectic schedule and with summer exams looming. Gareth needs to call on the help and enthusiasm of his colleagues to pull this off. Will the staff get on board his singing quest and become a source of inspiration for the kids? And will his work with the boys’ Choral Society pay off in the form of a concert that they can be proud off?
Premieres Wednesday, August 11, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
The long summer break is over, and it’s back to Lancaster for the new school year. Gareth’s more settled in the teaching routine, but his hope of leaving a lasting mark is still some way off. Creating a couple of choirs and scrambling together a summer concert isn’t going to convince the school’s Head to continue Gareth’s work when he’s gone. Gareth determines he needs to carry out a major image overhaul – and to do so he’s going to have to appeal to the musical passions that the boys do have. Gareth kicks the flagging Choral Society back into life by promising voice training and some expert backing for the all wannabe MCs who bother to turn up, but only as long as they agree to try out his music.
Premieres Wednesday, August 18, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
Gareth’s goal has been to create a 100-member choir that will carry on after he leaves his post at the Lancaster School. Bit by bit, Gareth’s choir has come together and he’s even got the faculty and playground rappers singing. His final challenge is to pull off a performance at the acclaimed Royal Albert Hall in London and leave the school a culture of singing that will carry into the future. But, with only four weeks to prepare for their performance in front of thousands, the choir is struggling with the classical piece and are in need of some inspiration. Next, with only days until the performance, the choir’s new soloist gets a throat infection. Can Gareth and the boys pull off the performance of a lifetime?
Premieres Wednesday, August 25, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
One year ago, Gareth took a teaching position at one of Britain’s largest boys school. He wanted to prove that singing could be a positive and enjoyable activity for boys. When he arrived at the school, singing was a dirty word, but over two semesters he battled entrenched attitudes, building up a 100-strong choir from nothing, until they were good enough to perform at the Royal Albert Hall. Now, exactly one year after he left, Gareth returns to the school to catch up with his former choir members and see if his time there had any permanent impact.
Premieres Wednesday, September 1, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
On his third project, Gareth heads to South Oxhey for the very first time. There he finds a divided community struggling to shake off a poor reputation that stretches back decades. Most local people agree that the area is in desperate need of a boost, but few think that a choir is the answer. Gareth scours the area looking for recruits, and his persistence pays off. When the date of the first rehearsal comes around, everyone is astounded by the turnout.
Premieres Wednesday, September 8, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
Gareth secures an opportunity for his new choir to perform at Watford Coliseum. Aware of the community’s poor reputation, Gareth feels it’s absolutely vital that they make a good impression. The choir gets to work on a new repertoire straight away but soon run into problems when the number of men in the choir begins to fall away. Meanwhile, Gareth sets to work recruiting for the area’s first ever children’s choir.
Premieres Wednesday, September 15, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
Both the adult and children’s choirs now have successful performances under their belts, so Gareth decides it’s time to raise the bar and set them a challenge that will make or break them. He wants both choirs to be able to tackle demanding classical music, and to sing in Latin! He also enlists the help of a local boxer to set up a male voice choir, hoping to include singers whose social life is normally built around sport and pubs.
Premieres Wednesday, September 22, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT
It’s now time for Gareth to realise his overall vision for a single, grand South Oxhey choir. As the culmination of his nine month project he decides to stage a choral Festival in South Oxhey itself, which he hopes will attract an audience of thousands from both the community and the surrounding towns. Has Gareth finally convinced South Oxhey of the value of its choir?
Premieres Wednesday, September 29, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT