Will Gareth end up singing 12-bar blues?
YOU’VE got to hand it to choir master Gareth Malone – walking into a prison crammed with some of the nation’s most dangerous men is not easy.
And this is not his natural environment – a church or cathedral, maybe. Not this.
As he enters Aylesbury Young Offenders Prison to talk to inmates about singing, it’s like watching Ross Kemp’s more timid, tuneful cousin.
“It’s quite an imposing door,” he says. “I really have been very nervous. Everything I know about prisons is from TV dramas, which is all terrifying.”
Gareth has every right to feel apprehensive. Some of the inmates, aged 18-21, are in for murder, manslaughter and GBH. Gareth has to have his own prison guard.
The challenge – in case you hadn’t already guessed – to form a prison choir.
Prison Governor Laura Sapwell hopes a choir might engage the young men they are trying to rehabilitate.
But as Gareth quickly realises, you can’t just wander into a room of offenders armed with sheet music for a jolly singsong around a piano.
“The kind of music you do ain’t the kind of music we do,” says one prisoner, smirking. The most Gareth gets from anyone at first is: “I rap a bit.”
Then there are logistical challenges, such as keeping some prisoners apart because of gang rivalries – fights break out on average once a day.
It’s a lot for Gareth to take in, and he’s sometimes conflicted in his compassion for these criminals, but he manages to get the boys to trust him. And the result is surprisingly moving.
Concludes tomorrow night.
Choirmaster Gareth Malone is used to a challenge – but this is a whole other level
Prison Governor Laura Sapwell