Gareth Malone’s North Devon adventure

Joseph Bulmer

The Choir: Military Wives follows the celebrity choirmaster’s bid to transform ladies from RMB Chivenor into a choir whilst their men are serving in Afghanistan.

NORTH Devon will take centre stage on the nation’s television screens next month as celebrity choirmaster Gareth Malone returns with a new series of The Choir featuring the ladies of RMB Chivenor.

The Choir: Military Wives will be shown on BBC 2 from Monday, November 7 and viewers will see the wives and girlfriends of troops serving in Afghanistan form a fledging choir under Gareth’s direction.

The first episode culminates with the ladies’ first ever public performance – a concert in Barnstaple which saw hundreds of people pack the Pannier Market last March to hear the girls sing and get a glimpse of the celebrity choirmaster.

It is the fourth series of Gareth’s BAFTA and RTS award winning The Choir, which see him take diverse groups and transform them into a choir. The first series in 2006 saw him tackle a group of pupils at a comprehensive school.

This time, Gareth believes music and singing will help the women of Chivenor and their children through a difficult time of worry and separation whilst their men are away.

It sees the whole base represented with ladies whose partners serve with 24 Commando Engineer Regiment, the Commando Logistic Regiment and RAF 22 Squadron

As the series progresses viewers will see the ladies sing at the Commissioning Dinner of the Sandhurst Officer Training Academy to get the military seal of approval, to their men at their Homecoming Medals Parade when they return from war, and finally in front of the Queen and Royal family at the Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall.

But the emotional torment of the tour is to prove unchartered waters for the inspirational choirmaster. During his six months with the families Gareth embedded himself into life on the base to spend six months with the Forces community, from the time the troops were deployed, until their homecoming parade and the big final performances.

Speaking at the time of filming in North Devon earlier this year, Gareth said: “This is a very different kind of challenge for me. These women do an important job – keeping the minds, bodies and souls of their military partners going while they are away – and whatever your feelings about conflict, these women are dealing with the consequences of it on a daily basis. “I want to lift their spirits and give them the voice they want, but we’ll be making music under some very emotional circumstances.”

The Choir: Military Wives is on BBC2 every Monday evening in November, with a final “update” show on November 28.

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