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Home Life Weekend

'Singing is better even than baking'

Mel Giedroyc lives out her musical aspirations vicariously as the presenter of new contest Pitch Battle

By Susan Griffin

As a self-proclaimed "wannabe" singing sensation, Mel Giedroyc admits she is in her element hosting Pitch Battle, a new Saturday night show inspired by the Pitch Perfect films.

"I'm a wannabe musical star, have been all my life, so to just be on the edges, it's amazing," confesses Giedroyc (49).

"I'm obsessed with musical theatre and choirs and it's been a year of that. I did Let It Shine with Take That, straight into Let's Sing And Dance (For Comic Relief) and now Pitch Battle."

In tonight's opening episode, six choirs and vocal groups of all different sizes and musical genres battle it out for a place in the grand final.

To progress and be in with a chance of winning the £50,000 cash prize, the groups must impress the panel of musical judges - the nation's favourite choirmaster, Gareth Malone, former choirgirl-turned-international recording artist Kelis and the first of the show's superstar guest judges, singer songwriter Bebe Rexha. Others will include Will Young, Seal and Chaka Khan.

"The genius inspiration behind the Pitch Perfect films is a man called Deke Sharon and he basically brought acapella and choirs to America," explains Giedroyc.

"So, very cleverly, they (the BBC) asked Deke to be part of our show. He's our musical director and an amazing guy."

The TV schedules might be saturated with talent shows, but Giedroyc believes "there's a singular joy and warmth" to Pitch Battle.

"There's something about singing as part of a group that automatically gives you something very different compared to those other shows where people are coming on singularly," she says.

Is it kinder? "Yes, it definitely is. I think these days we're going to cling to kind things a lot more actually, so for me it's absolutely definitely something I wanted to be part of."

In 2014, Giedroyc took part in an all-star choir, formed by Malone, in aid of Children In Need, and still has every intention of joining one herself.

"I swear to God there's nothing that's going to make you feel as good. It's even better than baking. You feel all the stresses and strains just go," she exclaims.

Ah yes, the b-word.

Last year, Giedroyc, Sue Perkins and Mary Berry announced they were stepping down from The Great British Bake Off after news broke the show would be leaving the BBC for Channel 4.

Paul Hollywood was the only one of the original quartet who decided to move its new home, and will appear alongside Noel Fielding, Sandi Toksvig and Prue Leith.

The new series is filming right now and although Giedroyc misses "the gang", she has no regrets.

"The right decision was made, absolutely," she says, not missing a beat.

And there are no hard feelings towards Hollywood, who is "always on the end of a text".

"And always on the end of a baking query," she quips. "I love texting him at some ungodly hour to say, 'Why is my Parkin bake lopsided? It really p***** him off."

The news of the show's move was a shock to fans, and Giedroyc reveals they didn't know too much of what was going on either.

"We knew something was rumbling, but didn't know the details. It seems like a million years ago. Life's moved on," says the presenter, who recently met up with Perkins, whom she met at Cambridge University, to discuss future projects.

"There will be something definitely," she reveals. "There's a high chance I would say it would be BBC. We love working together."

Aside from TV projects, Giedroyc has plans to put pen to paper again very soon.

"I've got a novel on the brew, that's something I've always wanted to do," says the mum-of-two.

"I wrote two books when I was pregnant and first had my daughter, mainly because I wanted to keep the old brain cells going, but I always thought I'd love to write a proper novel."

Time is a factor as this has been one of her busiest years professionally.

She credits her husband, Ben Morris, for his support.

"He does 50 percent. I couldn't do my job if he didn't," she states. "I'm never going to sit down and say it's really easy - it's not. You make sacrifices. I have a very, very understanding partner and we juggle like fury between the two of us.

"But the kids are older; they're 13 and 15, so we're at a different stage of our lives."

Next year, Giedroyc turns 50, but says, "I really don't mind getting older".

It wasn't that long ago that the BBC came under fire for its allegedly ageist approach to women in the industry.

"Yeah, they did, but I think they had to address that and I think they are," she remarks.

"Yes, Claudia (Winkleman) and Tess (Daly) are a bit younger than me, but we're all in our forties. Angela Rippon's still doing stuff and Julia Somerville ... Mary Berry, for Pete's sake."

  • Pitch Battle, BBC One, tonight, 7.30pm

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