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'Glee' for real: It's not too late to catch 'The Choir' on TV

September 8, 2010 |  5:00 am

A TV viewing pleasure this summer has been "The Choir" on BBC America, sort of a real-life version of Fox's hit, "Glee."

The series, which ran for three seasons in Britain, follows young choirmaster Gareth Malone as he attempts to create choirs in the unlikeliest of places. The three seasons have just made it to the U.S., and BBC America has rolled them out in a row. Times TV critic Robert Lloyd reviewed the premiere in July, saying, "You won't see anything better on television this summer." We at Culture Monster agree.

The first season followed Malone as he tried to teach serious choir singing to a high school that had no music program. The journey took them to a musical competition in China. The second season took Malone to an all-boys school, where sports were king and singing was seen as less than masculine. A performance at Royal Albert Hall beckoned.

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Malone and the kids triumphed. What might be surprising is how talented and thoughtful these teens and pre-teens are, and their remarkable attitudes (not always favorable) about their first exposure to the arts.

"Glee" creator Ryan Murphy says his show is about the importance of arts education. So too is "The Choir," in which Malone creates small miracles in each episode.

If you have missed "The Choir" so far, there's good news. The third year starts Wednesday at 10 p.m. on BBC America, with Malone taking his musical mission to the poor in the town of South Oxhey. We can hardly wait. Here's a preview.

Meanwhile, catch up with this conversation between Robert Lloyd and Gareth Malone.

-- Sherry Stern

Photo: Gareth Malone at the piano with the boys of Lancaster High School. Credit: MCT