Still from Unsung Town

The Choir III: Unsung Town

First broadcast: BBC, 2009
 
BBC iPlayer
 

Gareth Malone has proved that singing can take a group of kids who had never sung before all the way to the Choir Olympics. He has proved that boys can sing, take pride in it, and perform at the Royal Albert Hall. But can singing lift the spirits of an entire community?

South Oxhey is a sprawling housing estate, just outside Watford. Now home to over 12,000 people it was built after World War Two to provide housing for working-class Londoners who'd lost their homes during the Blitz. When Gareth arrives, South Oxhey has no tradition of singing beyond pub karaoke, but Gareth makes it his mission to turn the area into a centre of choral excellence. He wants to draw in people from every section of the community, from children to OAPs, and create one vast choir that will truly represent South Oxhey and at last give the area a voice.

This time, Gareth faces a new set of challenges. Already adept at dealing with unruly teenagers he now has to convince adults with longer-held and deeper prejudices about choirs that they should be singing. And he has to find a way to transmit the choir bug to primary school children whose main experience of singing is The X-Factor. But will South Oxhey take singing to its heart?

Gareth forms a choir and take them on an extraordinary journey and a fascinating set of local characters emerges. Many become deeply engaged in his choral project. His final challenge is to put on a major performance in South Oxhey itself, and invite the whole estate to the party.

South Oxhey's Legacy

After the cameras stopped rolling, the show was not over! The South Oxhey Community Choir and the South Oxhey Youth Choir continued singing and now perform regularly in Hertfordshire and at some of London's top venues, with Gareth Malone as their musical director. Find out about their next concerts or find out about joining at www.southoxheychoirs.org.

Reviews

"Kids love him, women love him, and Tim Dowling wants to be him. Meet singing saviour Gareth Malone."
The Choir: Unsung Town and The Fixer - The Guardian, September 2009

"The best thing to come out of the series is that this choir will carry on. We have about 150 dedicated members who want to carry on singing. This experience has given the whole community a lift and a well deserved pride in itself. For the first time that negative reputation has been well and truly vanquished. The project has encouraged such friendship and fellowship in people who previously may never have even met. But more importantly it's given people a real pride and belief in themselves — a belief that they can achieve great things and can make a difference."
Rev Pam Wise, South Oxhey

"Few shows in recent memory have put such a positive spin on the human condition, or so avidly demonstrated the values of art. In a television culture that nurtures Simon Cowell's practiced scorn and the me-me-me ethos of wannabe celebrity, "The Choir" is a tonic for broadcasting itself, a reminder of what the medium can achieve when it reflects real life, rather than simulated reality."
Norman Lebrecht

"This reality programme about one man's efforts to form a choir from the inhabitants of a deprived estate has shown the gamut of human emotion. During the series, South Oxhey's harmonious residents have exhibited hope, doubt, disappointment, exaltation, conflict, communal spirit and much more besides. People have been saved from loneliness. Many have been reunited with their love for music. Most have gained some self-confidence and made new friends. Behind all of this is the singular conviction of Gareth Malone, the choirmaster."
The Times

"This is another astonishing, inspiring and moving success story for the amazing Gareth Malone"
Daily Mail

"This series about Gareth Malone's mission to help the South Oxhey housing estate find their (singing) voice has been a rare thing: a reality TV show with heart and soul"
The Independent on Sunday

"Gareth's determination and belief has paid huge dividends, bringing together the community and transforming lives"
The Express

 

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