The Choir: Sing While You Work, BBC2- TV review


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The Independent Culture

Episode four of The Choir: Sing While You Work found Gareth Malone at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service HQ, where he hoped to enflame the staff with a burning passion for song. And if you think those puns are bad, you should have heard Gareth's introduction speech last night. He was on fire.

With his usual perspicacity, Gareth quickly analysed the workplace dynamic: "In this place everything is about the firefighters. The support staff see themselves as playing second fiddle. There is just a big split." It was a split that also manifested musically. While the choir's fireman produced a "fantastic, solid, manly sound", they drowned out the less confident, female voices.

Then Helen came to the rescue, just as she often does in her job as an emergency-call operator. Helen had a slightly deeper voice and a great sense of humour: "So I'm known as the Tenor Lady now, am I?" This provided Gareth with the opportunity to try a little role reversal.

Instead of giving the solo to crew manager Ant (Welsh, ergo good singer), he decided to make Helen the soloist and flank her with two strapping firemen on back-up vocals. It worked. Their rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising", a song written to honour the firefighters involved in 9/11, produced an awestruck silence followed by rapturous applause. It wasn't just the most moving moment in this episode, it was the most moving moment in the whole series.