Masterpiece Theatre: The Choir

Program Description

Save the Cathedral's revered all-boys choir or spend the money to restore the Cathedral to its former glory? That's the no-holds-barred controversy that rips apart the community surrounding England's Aldminster Cathedral in The Choir.

Actor James Fox, who portrays Cathedral Dean Hugh Cavendish, notes that Ms. Trollope -- a fifth-generation niece of novelist Anthony Trollope (The Barchester Chronicles) -- "treads on quite a few ecclesiastical corns" in The Choir, because she "highlights the way financial and political considerations get in the way of spiritual ones."

The debate pitting the save-the-choir adherents and those willing to sacrifice the choir for restoration soon erupts into community-wide discord. Dean Cavendish is determined to make the necessary repairs to his beloved cathedral even if it means disbanding the choir to save money. Leading those intent on saving the choir are headmaster Alexander Troy (David Warner) and the choirmaster, Leo Beckford (Nicholas Farrell).

Families and friends soon become embroiled in the controversy. The headmaster's absent wife, Felicity (Jane Asher), returns home and organizes a campaign to save the choir. Her husband asks the Dean for a year to try to make the choir self-supporting, but is granted only four months.

Then a former chorister, Nicholas Elliot (Oliver Milburn), plays a tape of the choir for the Dean's rebellious daughter, Ianthe (Claire Cox). She's sufficiently impressed to persuade the head of the record company for which she works to record a CD of the choir's star singer, young Henry Ashworth (Anthony Way), singing in the cathedral.

Playing out as the dispute escalates is a love affair between young Ashworth's mother, Sally (Cathryn Harrison), and choirmaster Beckford, which threatens the loving relationship between the boy and his grandfather, town councilor Frank Ashworth (Peter Vaughn). When young Henry's CD is finally released, it proves to be something that may save both the choir and the cathedral.

Home | Schedule | Past Programs | Home Video

WGBH | PBS Online | Search | Feedback | Shop

© 1997 WGBH

Masterpiece is sponsored by: