Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Choir That Rocked

Thursday at just before 9pm saw me hot-footing it from the Parents Forum at school through the driving rain to plonk myself down in front of the TV for the first episode of  'The Choir that Rocks'.

Ten minutes later I was Facebooking all my friends to tell them that we really were all normal, honestly.  From the opening credits you'd think that one of the criteria for joining Rock Choir, apart from an inability to sing a note in tune, was to be morbidly obese. I was genuinely worried that what we thought was a serious documentary was actually going to take the mickey out of the Rockettes, some of whom think of it as a virtual religion. Every one they spoke to seemed to be a little bit weird/sad/boss eyed or worse still, a town crier!  In front rooms across the land big women with dodgy eyes would be making effigies of the producer.  His picture was on the Rock Choir website. They would know where to find him.  

I thought of all the lovely ladies I know from my choir, most of them just great fun and very, very funny. They are older than me but they still go to Glastonbury.  Rock Choir was starting to look like some sort of community service for the socially inept.

The problem with the documentary is that it's really just about a bunch of  very ordinary people getting on together, being nice and doing something fun, sometimes even with their own husbands. There are no drugs, clandestine affairs or meanness.  No-one gets vajazzled and there's not a spray tan in sight. Not exactly thrilling television. So the producers have to find a tag. Cue the shot of the rundown council estate with the old sofa almost a little too artistically place in shot while a lady who may or may not actually live on said estate warbles over the top.  The message is that even if your life is shite, hey, you can join Rock Choir - if you can afford the £100 a term of course!  

Later on, the obligatory cancer survivor is wheeled out to tell how Rock Choir practically cured her. The Guardian commented that there should be an OFCOM ruling that if anyone  uses cancer sufferers to spice up a programme one of the production team should undergo a course of chemotherapy. Probably not a bad idea.

We head up North to meet two new choir leaders struggling to get the Rock Choir message across to the good people of Yorkshire who are clearly not getting the point.   Too much stout if you ask me!   The producers managed to find a man in a pub who clearly wanted to make the most of his 15 minutes of fame. He only really needed the flat cap and whippet to be a true Northern stereotype. "It'll never work" he tells the cameras, almost gleefully and certainly seeing poor Nic Slack's many tumbleweed moments as he tries to inspire his choir of nine, including possibly the only person under 30 in the Northern Hemisphere who had never heard of a flashmob, you might be forgiven for thinking he was right.  Even the news that they would be playing Wembley was greeted with silence. Maybe they just hadn't heard of it.

Certainly some people in Rock Choir are discovering the downside of putting yourself in the public arena where you have no creative control and the 'story' is king.  Caroline Redman Lusher has been portrayed in some papers as a failed pop star who came up with the idea of Rock Choir to ensure that she would always be able to front a musical act and a control freak who only became animated when she talked about money rather than the very shrewd businesswoman that she is.  The underlying 'will they/won't they' Wembley story in which they tried to suggest that poor Caroline faced financial ruin if she didn't pull it off was a little weak and of course you lot all know she did.  Our own choir leader having made a throwaway comment about the cost of being separated, arrived to pick up his children from his ex-wife to get the door slammed in his face. 'Too expensive are we?" was the parting shot.

My own feeling and that of the other choir members who I spoke to at Monday's session was that is was just a little dull.  It didn't seem to get to the essence of Rock Choir. It doesn't heal the sick or cure the lame and it isn't a panacaea for all society's ills, it's just good fun. But fun doesn't sell.

That said though, there were so many enquiries about joining after the first episode that the website crashed. It has something like 23,000 hits immediately after and the taster session being run by our choir at the weekend has 150 people booked on it, so it must have done something right.

Episode 2 airs on Thursday at 9pm.


Steve said...

An intriguing insight to the hidden world of TV... I guess even documentaries are fictionalized by the time they reach our screens.

Vera said...

I think Rock Choir is great! Shame that the documentary people were dishonest, but at least it has brought the choir to more people's attention. Would join one myself if they had them here in France!

Curry Queen said...

That's precisely the trouble - people having fun and being nice as you say, whilst remaining fully clothed and using only clean language doesn't make good telly and has to be spiced up a bit. Couldn't you arrange for some Dogging next time?!

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

So Rock Choir was given the XFactor treatment? Focus on the stereotypes and the bits that will supposedly pull on our heartstrings? Fascinating stuff!

Jonathan Jones said...

Don't worry, when I met Tom George's father at a taster session where he was helping Tom out (Tom's our Choir Leader and features in this week's episode with the Teenage Choir), his first comment to me was that he had always had a dislike of Town Criers and women who put their feet up on dashboards.

Wylye Girl said...

Steve, I just despair of the media.

Vera, I think to people from 'outside' it was probably a better documentary than for those of us inside. We are expecting around 100 new members come September

Wylye Girl said...

CQ, I suspect that some of our members would think dogging was something you did with a border collie and a few jumps!

Trish, I guess, based on my own experiences with the media, it was naive to expect anything else

Wylye Girl said...

Hi Jonathan, thanks for commenting. I'd be interested to know what your choir thought of it, being as you were all featured more than anyone else. It just annoyed me that they made us all look a bit daft when you and I both know we are not. I don't like women (or men for that matter) who put their feet up on dashboards either ;)

The Return of the Native ... sort of. said...

I will tune in this evening.
How nice to have 'friends' on the telly!

hausfrau said...

I only caught the last ten minutes last night (after the ballet run) and was sufficiently revolted by the sneery commentary with its will they/won't they be any good, that I thought I needn't catch up on the i-player. Your comments suggest it was a good decision! When people find something they love to do it is uplifting to think they will carry on regardless.

About Last Weekend said...

I laughed all the way through this post, think the guardian should get you on board to do their TV reviews. Think you're right, bit of fun doesn't sell, but its all good publicity anyway and if a couple more people join and change their lives for real, you guys could have your own reality show...but there clearly would need to be some vajazzling then...

Wylye Girl said...

RotN, you can catch the last part of the documentary tonight at 9pm. I'm hoping it might be better than the last two!

hausfrau, I dislike the commentary enormously too. The last episode, tonight, might be the best one to watch

ALW, yeah, I think the Guardian should give me a job too!

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