Blackburn Celebrates Christmas with Gareth Malone

Rating:

Ghosts

Rating:

Gareth Malone’s gift for inspiring confidence is evident in every person he meets. Sometimes, it’s too easy.

‘You are,’ he declared to talented but shy 13-year-old Ray, ‘in the presence of someone quite expressive, you may have noticed.’

Ray’s pal Maddison, 16, perked up. ‘Me?’ she asked brightly.

‘No, me!’ retorted Gareth. Spreading the feel-good factor is fine, it’s his job, but choirmaster Gareth draws the line at being upstaged by his choristers.

In Lancashire, he helped Blackburn Sings Christmas (BBC2), one of the hardest-hit towns by Covid.

Gareth Malone has a knack for instilling confidence in everyone. Sometimes, he does it too well

Gareth Malone is able to instill confidence in others. Sometimes, it’s too easy for him to do this.

Blackburn loves a good sing-song, he learned. Blackburn discovered landlady Carol at the Clifton Arms leading a karaoke similar to Gracie Fields. 

Folk were seen shaking their pints, banging on the tables and kneeling. Anyone who thinks raves are a fairly recent invention of the young doesn’t know Blackburn.

They were also belting out their choruses at the hospital. Stephen, a professional singer and musician was laid off by Lockdown. He subsequently joined the NHS to work as a cleaner.

There’s an old showbiz joke that anyone who can sing, dance and act is a ‘triple threat’.

Stephen offered his take. ‘I’m a triple-threat cleaner, porter and singer,’ he declared. As he performed Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and sang warmly transatlantically, there was nothing to be afraid of.

Over at the hospital they were belting out the choruses, too. Lockdown left professional singer Stephen out of work, so he joined the NHS as a cleaner. There¿s an old showbiz joke that anyone who can sing, dance and act is a ¿triple threat¿. Stephen had his own take on that. ¿I¿m a triple-threat cleaner, porter and singer,¿ he declared

They were also belting out their choruses at the hospital. Stephen, a professional singer and musician was laid off by Lockdown. He enrolled in the NHS to work as a cleaner. There’s an old showbiz joke that anyone who can sing, dance and act is a ‘triple threat’. Stephen came up with his own version of that. ‘I’m a triple-threat cleaner, porter and singer,’ he declared

Justin, a paramedic was singing in an ambulance to cheer himself up. He choked up when he talked about his work, but newly qualified doctor Yasmin said it for him: ‘We had to adapt very quickly to things that were more emotionally challenging than I have ever experienced.’

Gareth uses a unique technique to bring out emotion in vocals. He gets people singing in the highest key of their range.

‘Give it the full Shirley Bassey,’ he urged Justin, who didn’t need telling twice. The real tearjerkers, though, were Ray and Maddison with the lyrics they added to Silent Night: ‘Last year the mince pies didn’t taste the same, and I wish that Christmas hadn’t changed.’

The concert was only a special event. As the Christmas lights were going on, the last 15 minutes were devoted to it. It meant there wasn’t enough time to get to know all the personalities better, which was a shame. There’s no doubt that Blackburn knows how to throw a party, though.

Mike, Charlotte Ritchie, and Kiell Smith–Bynoe were hosting a Button House for anyone who needed an Xmas meal in Ghosts (BBC1).

Nicholas, a homeless man with a white mustache and Rudy the dog had pitched his tent in the backyard. This story almost drove ghosts over the edge. Luckily, there’s more acerbic humour to keep the balance. Jennifer Saunders made a guest appearance as a Victorian matriarch in a flashback, selling her daughter into a dubious marriage, to pay off her husband’s gambling debts.

Amoral politician Julian (Simon Farnaby) was teaching his fellow spooks to lie: ‘There is nothing that cannot be lied about or, rather, there is no truth that cannot be avoided.’

His top tip was to answer any awkward question with another question, spoken in an outraged tone: ‘Are you implying . . ?’

It’s all a comic fantasy, of course. Ghosts don’t exist — and MPs are always honest.

The night was a disgraceful one: In the past, quiz shows featured beautiful girls dressed in swimsuits and glamorous women wearing gowns as prizes. That’s unthinkable today. Alan Carr’s Epic Game Show Christmas Special (ITV) had a hunky male model in a white shirt to do it. There’s nothing sexist in that!