The Choir: Our School by the Tower, review – A testament to the resilience, pride and talent of pupils the year after Grenfell

‘Articles always call us ‘the school in the shadow of Grenfell’,” said impassioned teenager Olivia. “I’m like, no, we’re not the shadow. We’re the light.” The Telegraph reports

Poignant two-part documentary The Choir: Our School by the Tower (BBC Two) followed Kensington Aldridge Academy – the state secondary school next to the site of the tower block blaze, in which five of its students died – as it invited Gareth Malone to help pupils put on a concert. 

After being evacuated and put up in Portakabin premises a mile away, the homecoming show will mark their return to the original building after nine months away. Headmaster David Benson envisaged it as a couple of songs. Choirmaster Malone soon realised that these students had a unique story to tell, so hatched more ambitious plans.

The aptly named Lyric had secretly written a song about the fire’s first anniversary and performed it for  the first time, reducing best friend Olivia to tears. Jarelle and Cam’ron revealed their rapping skills. Star of the show, though, was 14-year-old Adil: a troubled lad forever shunted between foster homes but in whom Malone spotted a creative streak and gently coaxed it out. 

This opening episode climaxed with the choir’s debut in an end-of-term assembly. It was a cruel irony when they were rudely interrupted  by a fire alarm – the last thing they needed to hear.

Worrying research published last week found that music provision is being stripped out of our state schools. This big-hearted film was testament to its transformative, therapeutic power, as well as the resilience of these remarkable children.

Read more The Choir: Our School by the Tower, review – A testament to the resilience, pride and talent of pupils the year after Grenfell

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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