The Naked Choir with Gareth Malone, BBC2 - TV review: A snapshot into the lives of ordinary people enjoying a wholesome hobby

It's rare to see a nice person on TV, let alone dozens of them singing uplifting songs

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The Independent Culture

Gareth Malone naked? Is that what his love-in with all those army wives was really about?

Luckily, the choirmaster does not prance around in the buff for his latest BBC2 series. The nakedness refers to a cappella singing, with Malone following four competing choirs each week, who sing "naked" without musical accompaniment for the chance to be named the best in the country.

The Naked Choir did its best to ramp up the stakes for the competition, which started with four a cappella groups from the South-east. It took a leaf out of The X Factor's book, with stern judges glaring down at the camera, Malone giving Ant and Dec-like commentary from the sidelines and the choirmaster announcing the results "in no particular order" from a golden envelope.

But the comparisons to Simon Cowell's Saturday night staple ended there. There were no sob stories, gratuitous black-and-white flashbacks or tears from the judges. Malone's shows have been so successful because they provide exactly the opposite of what the overhyped entertainment format delivers.

Like fellow former BBC2 show The Great British Bake-Off, The Naked Choir gives an affirmative snapshot into the lives of ordinary people who come together to enjoy a wholesome hobby in goodwill. It's rare to see a nice person on TV, let alone dozens of them singing uplifting songs together. And Malone praises them, rather than playing the harsh card, as even Paul Hollywood has become rather too fond of doing now he's made the big time on BBC1.

Among so many likeable people, one group had to be sent home. Spinnaker Chorus's inability to move out of their comfort zone cost the all-female group a place in the next round, despite putting in so much effort to ensure their muffin tops weren't on show. Those diamanté- embellished jeans couldn't hide the fact there wasn't enough sparkle.