It's usually choirmaster Gareth Malone encouraging people to connect with their emotional side in his shows, but in his latest ITV TV show, it was him that needed consoling. The 43-year-old has revealed he had to take steps not to become too overwhelmed while filming The Choir: Our School by the Tower which features children who lost friends and relatives to the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
"This is the first time I spoke to a psychotherapist weekly," he said in an interview with Event Magazine, "so that I could get my own reaction to it out of the way and just be an open space for the kids to talk. I’m really glad I did that. I would go every week."
Malone, who has two kids with his wife, Becky, said he was "deeply moved" by the children he met. One, in particular, was Adil,15, who has had to deal with being moved between 11 foster families over the years as well as the tragedy of the fire. "Those are big things he’s dealt with, and it is very affecting. I wanted to be the guy who is able to sit there and say: 'Well, tell me about that...' I can’t bring my own sobbing in the face of what’s happened to these kids. That’s not useful to them at all."
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Over the course of seven months, Malone met with the pupils of the West London school weekly as they prepared to return to their original buildings at the foot of Grenfell Tower. Following the fire that left 72 dead, the school was relocated to temporary accommodation until last year.
Malone revealed it was to do with his own personal reaction to the tragedy that he decided to get involved with this programme. Sitting in his house in North London, the choirmaster said: "I woke up and saw what was happening on the news. I was very affected. I saw people from the local community and felt their bubbling anger."