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X Factor and The Voice not to my taste - choirmaster Gareth Malone

Published 15/09/2015

Gareth Malone is hosting a new BBC Two series, The Naked Choir
Gareth Malone is hosting a new BBC Two series, The Naked Choir

Choirmaster Gareth Malone has said he is not a fan of popular TV singing talent shows The Voice and The X Factor.

Talking to the Radio Times about his new BBC Two series, The Naked Choir, he also appeared to take a swipe at the way Simon Cowell's ITV series routinely belittles its contestants.

"The X Factor and The Voice aren't to my taste," Malone said. "People get very het up about it, as if The X Factor is the Antichrist and is destroying music. I don't hold with that. I see it for what it is - a Saturday night ITV show."

He added: "The Naked Choir is on BBC Two on a Tuesday. The musical quality is very high, and no one is getting humiliated or laughed at."

The 39-year-old became a household name teaching choral music to people with little singing experience in BBC Two's The Choir, which first aired in 2006.

A regular in school plays, Malone studied drama at the University of East Anglia and taught music, which led to a role in the educational department of the London Symphony Orchestra. His name came up when the production company behind The Choir Googled "community choirmasters".

"I don't want to start any more choirs for the time being. It's 10 years since I first did The Choir and I feel like I don't want to do it again," he admitted.

Instead, he is looking forward to The Naked Choir, a nationwide contest between eight amateur singing groups performing a cappella. Their sounds vary from doo-wop to hip-hop, while the material ranges from Elvis to Edvard Grieg.

"It's a music contest, but with real bite," he said. "The word 'choir' is in the title because it's what I'm known for. The Naked Group wouldn't quite work."

All the groups rely solely on their voices, without backing tracks or musical instruments.

Malone explained: "It's not naked because it's about nudity. It's naked because a cappella is such an exposing form of singing. Only once you've stripped away all those musical crutches is it possible truly to see, and test, a group's quality."

In another dig at ITV's Saturday night show, he said: "The spirit of the series is very pared down. Nobody gets a makeover or has their teeth whitened, like on The X Factor."

Malone took part in the current run of BBC One genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, but he draws the line at reality TV.

"I'm not interested in jungle celebrity type stuff - God, no. I'm always going to be a musician. That's what fires me - along with people."

:: BBC Two's The Naked Choir airs on Tuesday September 22.

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