The title of this week’s Holby City “Mad World” (sadly denied to us last week because of Big Cat Live) gave us all the clues we needed as to how the writers of this stellar hospital drama feel about mental health. It was encrusted with some diamond gaffs as Lola arrived at her new job as a medical officer at a residential mental home.
Art therapy was demonstrated by a couple of easels in a corridor, a couple of exterior shots of a lawn told us it was an opulent facility. But best of all was Lola’s response to her new environment from rolling her eyes at the cuts on the arm of a self-harmer, to laughing at an ex-colleague and victim of a mental breakdown because he wanted to be called by a different name to responding with a “God no!” when asked if she’d ever worked in a place like this before. You don’t have to be mad to watch it but…
Pretty much any choir will choke me up: school, church, gospel, especially coal miners, even the ‘Handbag of Harmonies’ ladies’ choir on The Last Choir Standing. Don’t tell me you’re any different. There’s something awesome about these massed voices: old men and teenagers, black and white, men and women. Something about lots of human voices, keeping it together, being as one: that’s enough for me.
The genius of Last Choir Standing is to roll in lots of real human drama with the natural vocal fireworks. You’ve got ordinary people overcoming circumstance and nerves and history and mercurial judges to progress round-to-round, plus all the phony drama of the verdict with the long pauses and the tears and the elation. I’m going to bet two or three quid that, unless you’re a block of wood, you’re going to find yourself spontaneously crying about a dozen times during this show. Really, you will.
4.6 million people watched Last Choir Standing right after the Doctor Who finale last week. That sounds pretty good for a choral music programme but it’s actually below the average for BBC1 in that time slot. It trashes ITV’s offer (You’ve Been Framed) nicely but now that Doctor Who’s finished I reckon it’ll fall away sharply and that means we’re unlkely to see Last Choir Standing again after this series, which is a pity.
At the show’s web site you can watch full-length performances, including the remakable Dreemz and (my favourite) the Hereford Police Male Voice Choir.