Television: Please sit. I'd like to appeal on behalf of The Choir
Others will argue that The Choir has forfeited any claim to our benevolence by its regrettable addiction to melodrama. I understand the sincerity of these feelings. Only the other day, an exasperated parishioner described it to me as "the sort of series in which the discovery that the milk has gone off would be accompanied by a passage from the Carmina Burana".
I can't - wouldn't wish to - deny the pertinence of these remarks. Watching Councillor Ashworth retreat from his bruising encounter with the Sub-committee on Facilities, the apocalyptic growl of Wagnerian brass did seem to argue that this was the dramatic equivalent of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. And even with recent synods fresh in the mind, the spitting malice on display will strike many viewers as a little surprising. Surely, they say, the spite of clerics would be a little more covert, a little more schooled by the professional habit of indiscriminate benignity?
Others have muttered darkly about the programme's treatment of women. Do we hear again the ancient libel against Eve, they ask, in this consistent portrayal of feminine weakness and guile? Again, it would be foolish for me to deny that they have a point. Mrs Cavendish behaves more like Clytemnestra just before bathtime than a loyal Dean's wife, supportive of his controversial plan to close down the cathedral choir.
But charity cannot be so nice it its judgements. The Choir, I would seek to remind the hard-hearted, has misfortunes that are not of its own making and merits that are. Is it really the programme's fault, for instance,that it finds itself competing with thedistinctly secular charms of Band of Gold, currently running on the advertising channel? I have not seen this programme, which I understand is concerned with fallen women and serial murder, but I suspect that many of you have. And whatever views I may have about the fitness of the matter for Sunday evening viewing, I am told by those in the know that the production is both skilful and humane.
And yes, it has to be admitted that the first episode of The Choir did not put up much of a fight for the affections of the viewing public, taking the hazardous course of teasing us for almost an hour before unveiling its somewhat specialised narrative charms. I regret that, these days, the distressed fabric of the church is no match for lycra and... um... rubberwear.
But there is real matter in The Choir, a larger subject in its apparently parochial civil war. I admit to you that I was moved by Canon Troy's impassioned speech in defence of the choral tradition, delivered before the frozen features of the Deanduring school speech day. If we lose the choir, he declared, "we not only damage our inner selves but we deprive the future of something precious and ancient that it is not ours to destroy". I think we can all learn something from that but I imagine that for Mr Alan Yentob, currently attempting to juggle the ancient and unaccountable traditions of public service broadcasting with the harsh realities of the modern world, the words have a particular irony. So, whatever your prejudices, please watch generously.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader