Moving story behind the ‘High Hopes Choir’
YOU’D want to have been made of stone not to be moved by the story of the High Hopes Choir, which was broadcast on RTE for the past two weeks - Ireland’s first choir for homeless people set up by David Brophy former conductor of the RTE Concert Orchestra.
An amazing and uplifting project, it was first aired shortly after the tragic death of Jonathan Corrie, a homeless man who appeared briefly in the first episode. The idea behind it is to give these people a voice and to help them change the public’s perception of what it means to be homeless.
In just under two months involving 20 rehearsals and over a thousand cups of tea and coffee, more than 60 people, all dealing with homelessness come together to create a charity single.
These are the same people that we all avoid making eye contact with when we see them on the street. We look the other way to avoid feeling guilty, to avoid seeing the desperation in their eyes and to avoid feeling bad.
All of them have a story to tell and mostly it involves drink and drugs to some degree. But they share one common goal - all of them want to get better. Tommy’s story was particularly heartbreaking. A young man from Galway raised by a good family just lost his way following a relationship breakup and a bad period of depression. He became a heroin addict and now sleeps rough. You could feel his love for the music and he threw himself into the choir with huge enthusiasm only to disappear a few weeks later back to his old ways.
Mousey is living in a hostel in Waterford. He admits drugs and drink destroyed his life but he’s clean now and the choir has given him a new lease of life. Gerry has lived in a hostel for 18 years. He wants to show people that he is down but not out.
New friendships have been forged and they all look out for one another. When Tommy goes back to the streets, Lisa from the choir checks on him every day. “There is no such thing as friendship on the streets,” says Tommy tellingly.
When Bressie, Shane Filan and Ed Sheeran drop in as the choir record their single, the women go weak.
“The hot flushes started! I thought they’d have to take me to the Mater!” joked Linda another homeless person who has recently been rehoused.
This programme is probably one of the best documentaries RTE have ever done. It has given these people back a sense of self, given them confidence and allowed them to believe that maybe things will get better. The final episode airs this Thursday on RTE 1 at 10.15 pm.
There was more talk on twitter on Sunday night about Mel B’s supposedly bruised face and the fact she wasn’t wearing her wedding ring than there was about who was going to win
The X Factor - Ben or Fleur. It comes as no surprise therefore that this year’s final drew its lowest ratings for more than ten years with an average audience of 8.4 million. At least 8 million of them only tuned in to see was Mel dead or alive after being dramatically rushed to hospital a couple of days before hand with a mystery illness.
She did look sort of shook to be honest but I couldn’t tell if her face was as a result of a bad make up artist or if she was bruised and swollen. Either way her personal circumstances were the focal point of the night.
But back to business. In the end Ben won although we all knew that Fleur was the better singer and you couldn’t help thinking people voted for Ben because he needed to win more than she did. Fleur is going to be a star anyway and I suspect Syco will have her snapped up before Ben does his first gig in Butlins.
Actually the best parts of the whole night were the guest performers - Take That, Sam Smith, Ollie Murs and Demi Lovato , not to mention all the previous X factor contestants who turned up to sing a number which involved the Blonde Electra sisters kissing each other on the lips , (eugh!) and Stevie Ritchie flying in on a rocket.
It was all a bit mad but good fun. Somehow though I suspect this could be the end of The X factor. Cowell is canny enough to know it has reached its sell by date and I doubt he needs the hassle. Cheryl VF’s heart wasn’t in it this year and although I take my hat off to Mel B for being a brilliant judge, she’s not enough to save it.
At least we won’t have to look at Louis doing his granddad dancing anymore!
ONES TO WATCH
Black Mirror: White Christmas, Tuesday, 9pm, Channel 4
I have it on good authority that this is absolutely brilliant, if a little bit nutty! This chilling feature length seasonal special is of the critically acclaimed drama series starring Jon Hamm, Rafe Spall, and Oona Chaplin. In a mysterious and remote snowy outpost, Hamm and Spall share a Christmas meal together, swapping creepy tales of their earlier lives in the outside world. Along the way we see Jon Hamm offering an unusual form of romantic guidance to an inexperienced young man, watch Oona Chaplin as she is thrust headlong into a nightmarish world of ‘smart’ gadgetry and explore what might happen if you could block people in real life just as you can on Facebook or Twitter.
The Fall, Wednesday, 9.35 pm RTE 1
This being the season finale, they moved the RTE showing to co-incide with the BBC one so that it wouldn’t be spoiled for anyone. This week Gibson’s investigation leads her to Spector’s lair but there is no sign of Rose Stagg. Increasingly desperate to find Rose, Gibson instructs her team to step up the interviews with Katie and Sally Ann and Paul Spector. However it is only when Spector makes a final play to remain in control that Gibson is offered any sort of answers - and they finally come face to face. Cue scary music!
The Crash, Thursday, 9 pm, RTE 2
This compelling two part drama tells the story of a real life crash involving school leavers with bright futures ahead of them. The story begins a year before the crash. The drama captures the horror of the accident and the frenzied activity in the immediate aftermath as paramedics try to save them while relatives wait desperate to know who has survived. Then 12 months later, we catch up with the survivors and their loved ones as they try to rebuild their lives and come to terms with their loss.
Top: The High Hopes Choir on RTE was an amazing and uplifting project. Left: Black Mirror: White Christmas on Tuesday, 9pm, Channel 4 I have it on good authority that this is absolutely brilliant and lastly the conclusion of The Fall on Wednesday RTE1 at 9.35 p.m.