All-singing new drama series announced for BBC One
Update - 12 November 2008: this
press release posted on 3 September 2008 has been updated to include the title of the drama, All The Small Things (originally announced with working title The Choir Project).
Sarah Lancashire (Oliver Twist, Clocking Off), Neil Pearson (The State Within, Bridget Jones) , Sarah Alexander (Stardust, The Worst Week Of My Life) and Richard Fleeshman (Coronation Street) have been confirmed to star in a new drama series for BBC One.
All The Small Things is written by Debbie Horsfield (Cutting It, True Dare Kiss) and produced by BBC Drama Production.
In an unremarkable town in the north of England, the sparky but self-effacing Esther (Sarah Lancashire) sings her heart out in the local choir – a disparate collective whose enthusiasm far outweighs its musical ability, and which is conducted by her husband, the charismatic and inspiring Michael (Neil Pearson).
Full-time mother to bolshy teens Fred, Georgia and the troubled but musically-gifted Kyle (Richard Fleeshman), Esther nimbly juggles the demands of clashing choral egos and chaotic family life.
That is, until glamorous soprano Layla (Sarah Alexander) arrives on the scene, tearing apart the harmony of the choir – and Esther's marriage – dividing loyalties and creating mayhem wherever she turns.
Manipulative and aspirational, Layla soon has Michael singing from her own song-sheet, encouraging him to jettison all but the most gifted singers from the choir in the ruthless pursuit of prizes and recognition.
Further intrigue appears in the shape of Jake (Bryan Dick), a handsome young curate with a secret mission to shake up the old order – and whose own past has been blighted by the spirited Layla.
Excluded from the choir and from her marriage, Esther's life is turned upside down.
As the less able singers are forced out of the revamped choir Esther unwittingly finds herself at the heart of an eclectic troupe of misfits, united only by their passion for music.
Unexpectedly joined by the younger generation and their loud, sometimes abrasive musical offerings, it is Esther's task to unite the disparate strands – classical and contemporary – and through Kyle's extraordinary talent, and her own quiet inspiration, to create a new choir on the block.
Over six one-hour episodes, we follow the lives and ambitions, triumphs and failures of Esther and Michael, Jake and Layla, and two choirs with very different agendas, against a backdrop of soaring choruses, uplifting arias and infectious melodies.
Kate Harwood, Controller, Series and Serials, BBC, says: "A passion for music lies at the heart of Debbie Horsfield's warm and uplifting drama.
"As the characters' individual stories unfold it's the power of music that holds them together – we're delighted to be bringing such an original and feel-good drama to BBC audiences, and hope to have them singing along!"
Filming began in mid-August in and around Manchester.
Richard Burrell (Robin Hood, Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story) is producing the series, with Manda Levin, Phil Collinson and Debbie Horsfield as Executive Producers.
All The Small Things has been commissioned by Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction and is a BBC Drama Production for BBC One, to be transmitted in early 2009.