Film, TV & radio choir dramas

​​  "Thank you for your invaluable contribution to archiving 
    and protecting our national cultural choral heritage"
    Stephen Russell, conductor & singing teacher

​​  "Your website is a constant source of delight"
    Paul Hale

Television and Film

The Archive has spent many years acquiring choir-based Film, TV and Radio dramas,
both from this country and abroad
Particularly in the 1980s-90s the fascination of Cathedrals and their choirs for TV and film audiences seemed endless.
Some are dramas are well known, such as 'The Choir' whilst others almost languish in obscurity, never having been commercially released.
As well as being hugely entertaining they offer a fascinating social commentary on the era in which they were filmed.
'The Box of Delights'

BBC TV  :  1984

Hereford cathedral and its choristers take centre stage in the final episode.

The Box of Delights is available to purchase on DVD.

​Based on the classic children's novel by John Masefield, the story follows the exploits of a young boy, Kay Harker, who finds himself drawn into a world of magic and danger when he encounters an old Punch and Judy man.​​

This is one of the most magical programmes the BBC ever made for children.
'Shadow Run'

Movie : 1998

Staring Michael Cain and Matthew Pochin and the choir of Hereford cathedral.

Shadow Run is available to purchase
on DVD

A British gangster movie in which a cathedral chorister gets mixed up in a heist; there is, however, quite a lot of singing by the choir and solos by Matthew Pochin.

Matthew Pochin, who starts alongside Michael Cain was the Head Chorister of Hereford cathedral.

Click the image opposite to read the article on the film from 'Choir Schools Today'
'The Choir'

BBC TV : 1995

Staring Anthony Way and a host of famous stars, The Choir is the most famous TV drama of them all.

​This five part adaptation, based on Joanna Trollope's novel, explores the internal politics and scandals of a cathedral choir school. 

The Choir was filmed in Gloucester cathedral with the choir performing the music and as film extras.

The lead chorister actor was Anthony Way, who was a chorister not at Gloucester, but at St Paul's cathedral.

Due to ten years of copyright wrangling, the DVD set was not issued until 2006.
This short video clip features the treble duet 'Love one another' from Wesley's 'Blessed be the God and Father' and is sung by Anthony Way and James Hopkins.  ​​James was a chorister at Gloucester cathedral.
None commercial releases
These films are not commercially available but copies of each are in the Archive.   A brief snipped of each film is available to watch.  Please contact the Archive regarding viewing the entire film
'A Haunting Harmony'
HTV International  :  1993
Written by Fiona McHugh and directed by Alvin Rakoff
Worcester cathedral choir, with the majority of filming in Great Malvern priory

The story of a friendship between a Canadian chorister attending an English cathedral choir school and the ghost of a Welsh choirboy who has been haunting the cathedral for 400 years and using flashbacks to 1595 to draw out parallels in their lives.   ​​ 
'The Ballad of Salomon Pavey'
Associated TV  (ATV)  :  1977
Written by Jeremy James-Taylor
London Children's Musical Theatre

Although sung by a secular choir this rare film deserves a place in the Archive as the story is set in the Elizabethan Chapel Royal.

Salomon Pavey, an outstanding boy actor is press-ganged into joining 'The Children of the Chapel Royal', a company of boy-actors which entertained the Elizabethan nobility.  

He unwittingly becomes involved in the politics of the Royal Court with tragic results - a victim not only of his enemies, but also of his success. A ballad opera that uses popular music of the period, capturing beautifully the spirit of the Elizabethan age.
Illustrated article from
Radio Times
'Angel Voices'
BBC Screen 2  :  1989
Written by Stephen Wakelam and directed by Michael Darlow 
Singing & acting by the Manchester Boys' choir, except lead actor Stephen Bird as 'Slater' who was a chorister at St Peter's Fleetwood.  Watch here Stephen's performance as winner of ' Opportunity Knocks ' in 1985.  

Set in the summer of 1963, the year of the Beatles and wild dances like the Hully Gully, the choirboys of the local parish church set off on their annual trip to Blackpool.  Tommy Bray their choirmaster (played by Michael Williams)  fears that his beloved choir may not survive the temptations of the time.  ​

'Hell's Bells'
BBC TV : 1986
Starring Derek Nimmo as the Dean of Norchester Cathedral.
Six 30 minute episodes

A comedy series filmed in Hereford cathedral in which the choristers only appear in a non-singing role in the opening credits.
Derek Nimmo with the Hereford choristers.  Click to enlarge

'A Swarm in May'
Children's Film Unit : 1983 
Based on the novel by William Mayne and directed by Colin Finbow

Music performed by the choir of Westminster Under School, from where the choristers of St Margaret's Westminster are recruited and directed by G. Roland-Adams

The filming took place in Rochester Cathedral and all the boy actors, including the lead parts, were pupils of Westminster Under School in London, many of whom were  also choristers at St Margaret's.
'A Sort of Innocence'
BBC TV  :  1986
Written by Alick Rowe and directed by John Gorrie  :  Six 50 minute episodes
Hereford cathedral choir directed by Roy Massey,
the lead actor, Neil Jeffery,  was a chorister at Canterbury cathedral.

This was the first major choir based TV drama, yet unfortunately never gained the recognition it deserved. The story revolves around Tim, a cathedral chorister whose voice is beginning to break, threatening the very core of his life.  His world is further thrown into turmoil when his drunken and boorish estranged father re-enters his life.  Watch the dramatic scene of his father crashing into the cathedral and wrecking Tim's solo.  ​
Behind the scenes of 'A Sort of Innocence'  :  A complete 10 minute film 

Illustrated article from
Radio Times
Roy Massey reminisces
over the filming

Radio plays

The Archive has recordings of four choir-based radio plays.  
'Even Song'
by Art Tanner : 2007
Music by St Edmundsbury cathedral choir

Canon Charles Latimer (played by Oliver Ford Davies) muses as the takes his place, as he has done so for the last fifty years, in his stall.  It's rueful, disrespectful, honest and recognisable.  

'Suspicion for 10 voices'
by Mark Lawson  :  2013
Solos by Joseph Hancock, chorister at New College Oxford

As Protestant England stands resolute against Catholic enemies abroad, Chapel Royal composer William Byrd is arrested on suspicion of encoding papist messages in his music.

'Boy Bishop'
by Alick Rowe  :  1993
Music by Hereford cathedral choir

There is keen competition among the choristers when news spreads that the ancient practice of electing a Boy Bishop is being revived.
'Solo Boy'
by Hugh Jenkins  :  1983

Music by St Paul's cathedral with solo treble, Ben Reville

The story is set in a church choir in 1924 and the most coveted treble solo of them all, Mendelssohn's  'O for the wings of a dove'

​Hugh Jenkins was later to become Lord Jenkins of Putney and Minister for the Arts in the 1974 Labour Government. This was his first radio play.
Go to Radio broadcasts
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