BBC One embarks on a brand new weekend entertainment show as choirs from all walks of life – from handbag-wielding Cheshire housewives performing Britney Spears to a group of gay men giving the Pussycat Dolls a new spin – go up against each other to find out who has the passion, power and performance necessary to be declared Last Choir Standing.
Singing in choirs is one of the nation's favourite pastimes with over 25,000 registered choirs and at least half a million members. Following a callout to choirs across the country some of the UK's best will be going head to head in this exciting new talent search to find the nation's favourite choir.
Presenters Nick Knowles and Myleene Klass will follow the choirs as they progress through the contest. Joining them and putting the choirs through their paces will be a panel of music experts - opera superstar Russell Watson, actress, singer and West End star Sharon D. Clarke and choral conductor and director Suzi Digby OBE.
Each choir will have to prove they have the power, passion and performance to win over a chorus of approval from the judges and viewers at home if they are to be left as the Last Choir Standing and crowned as the nation's favourite singing sensations.
Commissioned by Elaine Beddell, Controller, Entertainment Commissioning, BBC Vision, Last Choir Standing is a BBC Vision Studios production brought to the screen by the team behind other BBC hit entertainment shows including Strictly Come Dancing, I'd Do Anything and Any Dream Will Do. Executive Editor is Martin Scott, Executive Producer is Moira Ross and Series Producer is Clodagh O'Donoghue.
Thousands of people from all walks of life sent in their applications on tape. The only criteria for entries being that the choirs are made up of between 10-50 people, aged 13 years or older.
60 of the best choirs are invited to audition in front of the expert panel of judges at Cadogan Hall in London.
With a limited number of places available in the next round they have to pull out all the stops, showing that they not only have the technical ability but also the passion to bring their songs to life. They will need two yes' from the judges to make it through.
AAfter making it through the audition stage, the 27 best choirs return to sing for the judges once again. This time the stakes are higher as the choirs have the added pressure of singing under the lights and cameras of a TV studio in front of a studio audience - including some famous faces - and the other choirs taking part. The judges will be looking to see just how far the choirs have progressed since the Cadogan Hall auditions, and whether they have the potential and stamina needed for the rest of the competition.
With only 15 places in the next stage of the contest - The Heats - the judges then face the difficult task of deciding who has the potential to go all the way.
15 Choirs will perform over 3 heats
Each show will open with a rousing group performance with all five choirs from the heat involved it will be like nothing seen before. The individual choirs will then perform two songs each, desperate to impress the judges and earn a coveted place in the knockouts.
Each week, five choirs will sing 2 songs each to convince the judges they have the power, passion and performance to potentially win the competition. At the end of the show the judges must announce who is their "stand out choir" of the night . This stand out choir instantly wins the first guaranteed place in our live shows.
The judges must also decide which choir they will stand down and eliminate from the competition. Three choirs now remain, and must now battle it out the following night to stay in the competition.
This show sees the three remaining choirs sing again to win the second available place in our knock out shows. This is the choirs' last chance to impress the judges.
Here, they must perform their "last chance song". Each choir knows this song could either win or lose them their place in the competition. One choir will be chosen by the judges to take the second available place in the live knock out shows.
With only six choirs now remaining they will all perform each week for the public vote. Each choir will have to prove to viewers that they have the power, passion and performance to be the Last Choir Standing. Each week one choir will say goodbye, leaving just three choirs still standing in the grand final.
Apply for tickets to be in the studio audience, by going to BBC Shows and Tours.
Last Choir Standing demands huge dedication from our choirs who are all made up of ordinary people with full time jobs and family commitments. It is also a massive logistical operation for the production team.
Hundreds of people from all over the country will be coordinated to come to TV centre on a weekly basis. Some choirs start travelling from Thursday night to make it in time for the Technical Preparation day on Friday, a day crammed with rehearsals, to be ready for Show Day.
On the Technical Preparation Day, all choirs arrive at TV Centre, have a short warm up, and then go straight in to the sound studio where we also record a "safety track" of them all singing.
In the studio, all of our choirs will be singing live, the soloists will be live, nobody will be miming. However singing in a TV studio is very different to singing in a concert hall, the acoustics are very different, and present many different technical challenges for choirs, quite unlike those that normally apply to TV music shows.
The basic premise of a choir means that the vocalists are 'blending', it's all about making the singer next to you sound better by mixing your harmony with his/hers. It is important to capture the blend of the choir and not individual voices.
On Last Choir Standing the choirs will be singing in many different styles, maybe a capella, or with a simple piano track, or even incorporating full orchestration and choreography into their routines. As we want to give all of them the opportunity to look and sound their best so they're not restricted to just standing still in front of a microphone, we have introduced a safety track for those performances that may include a lot of choreography or movement. This will be a pre-recording of our choir's blended vocal performances in a sound studio before each show. This safety track will be mixed in with their live studio performances during these specific pieces. All choir masters understand how this process works.
After the recording, it's off for a choreography rehearsal for some last minute practice. Some choir members are called for interviews with the filming team to catch up on how their week has been and how they're feeling about the competition. Then they're on set for rehearsal giving both the studio director and them a chance to run through performances. And it doesn't stop there, by the end of the day all five choirs are brought together to rehearse their group number for the opening of the show. This is the first time they get to sing together and size up their competition!
Finally it's off to their hotel to get some well deserved sleep before the big day.
Show Day starts early the choirs arrive from 9 am onwards - for more rehearsals on set, another group number rehearsal and a full dress rehearsal. Then it's into the main show.
For Choirs that are successful and get through the knockout stages, the hard work continues. Choir masters stay behind for a music routining session the next day with the show's Musical Director Nigel Wright where they prepare their next lot of songs. Then it's back home to get work started with their choirs for the forthcoming shows.
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