Sunday night’s grand finale of The Choir: Sing While You Work (BBC2) was a lesson in collaborative music-making which took place in the spectacular and festive surroundings of Ely Cathedral.
For the first time in the competition, the workplace choirs were to be judged on their performance of the same song, “With a Friend Like You”, an original composition by show judge Paul Mealor and Brendan Graham, the lyricist responsible for Westlife’s “You Raise Me Up”. It wasn’t quite to the taste of the smug classical music boffins at Citibank, however. “It’s very... um.... Andrew Lloyd Webber,” said one. Her colleague was less tactful: “It’s cheesy. It’s cheese-tastic.”
There were more important things to worry about at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, where the threat of impending strike action gave The Choir its first gritty social realist storyline. Not that choirmaster Gareth was fully engaging with the issues: “The choir is doing incredibly well, and to lose out because of a strike would be a great shame,” he said. Arguably less of a shame as losing their pension rights, Gareth, but whatever.
It’s never easy to get through a full episode of The Choir without some involuntary sniffling, but this final performance was an all-out assault on the emotions. There was the moving sight of two brothers (P&O’s Grant and Jeff) supporting each other in song, the adorable Ely school choristers grooving to the gospel section, plus that ineffable magic that choral music always attains at Christmastime. Resistance was futile. By the time P&O Ferries took home the trophy, I could barely see the screen for tears.
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