The Singing Estate - Tuesday March 13

the singing estate (3/4) 19.15–20.00

This four-part series follows renowned conductor Ivor Setterfield as he selects singers from the Blackbird Leys housing estate in Oxford and transforms them into a classical choir. A brand new programme catching up with the singers today will air at the end of the series.

In tonight’s third programme, the Albert Hall concert is looming, so Ivor has arranged for his fledgling choir to sing at a community concert for their friends and family. But learning five extra songs in a fortnight is proving a tall order for some. To make matters worse Ivor has given choir member Bobby a famously difficult solo. Can he turn this former funk singerinto a Pavarotti-style tenor in time for the concert?

Having just returned from Verona where the choir flopped disastrously in the main square, Ivor decides they need an extra public performance if they’re to be ready for the Albert Hall. This will take the form of a community concert on the estate. He calls in everyone individually for appraisals and, appalled by some of the singers’ progress, demotes an alto and fires one of the basses.

When the extended repertoire for the concert is announced, Bobby is chosen as the soloist for ‘O Sole Mio’ – taking over the part of professional tenor Franco, who underperformed at the disastrous concert in Verona – and his training begins, although he struggles to find the confidence to deliver the part. Colin, who had hoped that he would be chosen for the role, decides to get the choir to perform one of his own compositions at the concert.

The section leaders decide extra rehearsals are needed if the choir have any chance of being ready for the concert – but some choristers don’t take their responsibilities seriously. Dorothy paints a picture of the choir for tickets, but Ivor has other worries on his mind: with only a week before the concert, the rehearsal is appalling.

Big Jon desperately wants the vacant place in the basses, but after Ivor hears all three cover singers who are vying for the spot, he decides that none of them are good enough yet. The three male covers redouble their efforts, and Jon asks section leader Alun to help him impress Ivor. Meanwhile, Colin puts the final touches to his song with the choir in the recording studio. Ivor gives Bobby a muchneeded pep talk, and the results are soon evident. The choir is inspired by Bobby’s transformation, and put in a lot of extra hard work – and it shows, as the final rehearsal goes brilliantly. Has it all come together at the right time?

The day of the concert arrives, and Alun oversees the construction of the marquee. Ivor takes the cover singers outside to tell them who has made the grade. To Jon’s disapointment, Ivor promotes Philip to the basses – has all his hard work been for nothing? Bobby invites his father to the concert to watch him sing, but he refuses to come. He ends up missing a treat: the concert is a triumph, as Bobby nails his solo and the choir deliver a stunning performance. Even Colin’s song goes down a storm. Everyone is left feeling very positive. But can they repeat this triumph on the greatest stage of all – London’s Royal Albert Hall?

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