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4.7 out of 5 stars31
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 24 June 2008
Ferdinand Fairfax's excellent adaptation of Joanna Trollope's (b. 1943) first `non-historical' novel, originally published in 1988, was originally serialized around March 1995. The total viewing time is in excess of 4 hours and this 2 DVD set is nicely presented, although lacking extra features.

The Dean of Aldminster Cathedral, Hugh Cavendish (James Fox) is short of money; the precious and unique organ has recently been replaced and now significant sections of the roof, and its timbers, are found to be defective and in urgent need of skilled and costly repair. Conceivably, money could be raised by releasing funds normally spent upon the maintenance of Aldminster's Cathedral's well-known boys' choir. And this is precisely what the Dean intends to do, much to the shock and dismay of Alexander Troy (David Warner) the noble Headmaster of the Cathedral School, and even more especially to the Choirmaster and Organist, Leo Beckford - convincingly played by Nicholas Farrell. Also involved in this mêlée is wily but seasoned Councillor Frank Ashworth (Peter Vaughan) and the Dean's scheming wife, Bridget Cavendish.

The impact (of what could be interpreted as the Dean's own mutant form of crass Beechingesque monetarism) upon the relationships and the former state of apparent interdependency amongst the various residents and `parties' within the cathedral close is dealt with in a sensitive, yet surprisingly acceptable manner in both book and screenplay alike. The weaving of the plot and subplots draw in certain socio-political issues and also raises the endemic matter of `state' interference or governance of `the Church' at large. The backcloth is the glorious, superficially tranquil cathedral close and, of course, the aisles, transepts and, more poignantly, the lighting and rafters around the cathedral's creaking roof timbers!

This series is well remembered for helping to stir something of a revival within the sphere of Anglican ecclesiastical music. Anthony Way (a genuine chorister from St Paul's School, London), who played Henry Ashworth, the budding chorister in the Boys' Choir at Aldminster, became something of a junior star through his spirited, if marginally choreographed, rendition of pieces like George Stanford's 'Magnificat in G' et al. As already hinted at, the cinematography is first-rate and will not disappoint those who swoon over the incomparable glories of England's cathedrals and abbeys!

Of course, a number of literary critics have enjoyed drawing parallels between the cloistered, echoic environs of the fictitious Aldminster Cathedral - actually Gloucester, within which virtually the entire plot is cast - and with the world of Barchester, previously made famous by Trollope's ancestor. Indeed, Joanna Trollope pens like one at home in an ecclesiastical, especially an Anglican environment and both the book and DVD are thoroughly drenched in details discernible only to one more fully immersed in the font of Anglican 'Churchianity'. In fact, Trollope herself hails from the ancient Cotswold market town of Minchinhampton, in Gloucestershire, where she was born in her grandfather's rectory!

Apart from the rather abrupt and altogether too patently Mills & Boon finale to this adaptation, there is little else to set about. The casting proved to be a huge triumph and put this alongside the rousing score and the excellent screenplay and this is a production which this reviewer is happy to commend with very few reservations.

Michael Calum Jacques (aka Mike MacKinnon, former radio presenter)
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on 27 April 2006
You will find little to criticize in this excellent BBC drama. A very strong cast, a sound and engaging plot from Joanna Trolloppe, and the young outstanding chorister (from St Pauls)- Anthony Way - who gives all the cast a good run for their money. Five splendid episodes that will echo in the mind for years to come. If you saw the original release on TV you will want to be reminded of the high quality of drama that the BBC is capable of. If you never saw it back in the mid 1990's, then you are in for a treat. Enjoy!
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on 19 September 2008
The Choir (2006) is a BBC tv series, produced by Ferdinand Fairfax, directed by Peter Cregeen, written by Ian Curteis and based on Joanna Trollope's novel "The Choir" (Coronet Books, 1988). Starring David Warner, James Fox, Jane Asher, Nicholas Farrell and introducing real-life boy chorister Anthony way, "The Choir" is the engrossing story of the cathedral town of Aldminster and its celebrated school choir. The Aldminster choir is in deep trouble, when the Dean Hugh Cavendish (James Fox) decides the cathedral roof needs urgent repairs. Unfortunately, there isn't enough money to maintain the choir and the roof and this means sacrificing the choir. Bad move! At least for the Dean, his wily wife and the people whose life would be turned upside down by the Dean's decision. Soon enough, the cold and frustrated Dean will have to fight against the Headmaster and his wife, the Choirmaster, and even his own daughter. Not surprisingly, in what used to be a quiet cathedral town, passions now run high and nobody will emerged from the turmoil unscathed. Over two discs for a total running time of four hours and fourty minutes, with English subtitles, but without any other extra features, "The Choir" provides with high-quality entertainment. A special note for the setting (Gloucester), the beautiful and genuine voice of school chorister Anthony Way, and for delighting us - at last - with a good guy character for the great David Warner. I agree with the other reviewer, Michael Calum Jacques (review June 24th, 2008), it is obvious that Trollope is a 'churchianity" natural. Not only does she know what she wrote about (and what is very well rendered in this tv adaptation), but obviously, she had a great time crafting it. "The Choir" is a delight, in every respect. Don't miss that real treat!
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on 14 March 2006
This 1995 TV mini-series was on the air in 1995. It is based on the novel by Joanna Trollope, a story of the politics behind a Cathedral Choir School and the Cathedral itself. The Cathedral Dean wants to get rid of the choir to help preserve funds for the Cathedral building.
This really is classic BBC drama. There are sub-plots, including the usual relationships you get with Joanna Trollope books. I strongly, strongly suggest you purchase the soundtrack which shot young St Pauls Chorister Anthony Way to great hights in the UK Popular charts with a number of classical albums.
Great acting and directing, true to the novel and excellent music. High level of performance by a young Anthony Way.
I have been waiting for this to be released on DVD for some time. Comes highly recommended!
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on 29 March 2006
This is one of the best TV adpatations I have ever seen. The casting is simply terrific, as is the acting. The setting is authentic and it is well filmed. I've waited years for this on DVD - it was first broadcast in 1994. I can't wait!
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on 5 June 2015
To write a positive review about that stunning BBC serial means to carry coals to Newcastle (in German: Eulen nach Athen tragen) . Since 1957 I am fan of boys' choirs. The soloist Anthony Way for example as a leading actor is excellently - his choir too...:))) The one or two scenes from the production are available at YouTube and a good advertising.

That was my motivation to purchase the DVD (= two DVDs). The offer is not cheaply, but no fan of boys'choirs would regret to have purchased that production.
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on 4 June 2009
This production of "The Choir" is absolutely riveting. I was in the UK when it was first screened and was lucky enough to see the entire series before returning to Australia. Since then I have purchased it on DVD and relived the experience over and over again. I cannot get sick of playing this brilliant piece of television theatre. Highly recommended viewing; if you haven't added this to your collection yet, get too it without delay, you will not be disappointed.
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on 29 December 2013
This is a BBC adaptation of what was then a fairly contemporary novel about the political atmosphere in a fictional Anglican Cathedral's Close and Precincts. The central premise, that of the fight between the heart of a Cathedral, and its bank balance, was and still is relevant, and the story of the threat to the choir school almost seems, in retrospect, prescient, when one considers that some years after this was made, there was considerable threat to Canterbury Cathedral's Choir School.

The acting was excellent, and the multiple layers of simmering tensions between different characters will keep you on the edge of your seats. Anthony Way, as Henry Ashworth, was perfectly cast. Choosing a chorister, rather than an actor, to play the role, was absolutely the right decision. Way understands the complexity of a chorister's position exactly, and, through his experience at St. Paul's Cathedral, displays the physical poise and emotional conflict that a chorister in Henry's position would display. Peter Vaughn and James Fox, as Councillor Frank Ashworth, and the Dean of Aldminster respectively, play characters that meet like an irresistible force meeting an immoveable object, and show once again why they are such highly regarded actors. Nicholas Farrell, as the choirmaster, plays my kind of Christian.

The music is enchanting, and is composed, arranged, or conducted by Stanislas Syrewicz, working with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra.
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on 14 November 2009
An excellent production which is well worth purchasing especially for those interested in church architecture and choral music.
The breakdown of family relationships involves a child and a box of tissues nearby is useful!
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on 8 January 2015
Arrived promptly. Reasonable value. Well put together. Good cast and acting. Wife well pleased with her gift and enjoying the DVD.
Regards David Barton-Smith
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