BBC Songs Of Praise School Choir Of The Year 2012


Over the weekend of Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th February 2012 the final rounds of the 10th Songs Of Praise School Choir Of The Year competition, hosted as usual by Aled Jones, were held at The Lowry, Salford Quays.

They were recorded and later broadcast over three Sundays in April on BBC1.

Suzi Digby, David Grant and Russell were the judges once again and they were faced with some incredibly difficult decisions.  The standards in this competition are always high and seem to be raised higher every year.  

Just to clarify, all the juniors’ semi-finals and finals were recorded during the Saturday afternoon and all the seniors’ during the Sunday.  The recordings were then edited so that three programmes were produced for broadcast; junior semi-finals one week, senior semi-finals the second week, and junior and senior finals the third week.   To create the illusion of three ‘instalments’ the recording jumped back and forth and Aled and the judges got changed in the interval while they were considering their verdict.

“Real men wear pink,” declared Aled Jones at the start of the proceedings, as he was wearing a pale pink shirt and Russell was wearing his pink tie in the first half of the recording session for the Senior semi-finals.

Russell was his usual self, making his comments constructive and encouraging.  When the judges retired to consider who would be going forward to the finals (in the second half of the recording session) he signed several ‘programmes’ on his way down from the judges’ podium.

Three choirs were ‘knocked out of the competition’ and the finalists gave their performances in the second half.  When the judges retired for the second time to deliberate on their final choices we were treated to a surprise… another choir took to the stage and were introduced as the Manchester United Foundation Choir.  They performed two songs, the first of which was ‘Make You Feel My Love’ – the song that the Military Wives Choir performed recently at the National Television Awards.  They drew huge applause, and deservedly so.  The Foundation is the chartitable arm of Manchester United Football Club and works with young people from all around Manchester, not just in the vicinity of Old Trafford. 

All that remained then was for the finalists to return for the judges verdict.   Suzi Digby made the announcement and Russell, who had just taken to the stage, presented the winners with their trophyAfter suitable congratulations and thanks were offered to and by the winners he also presented the two runners-up with their trophies. 

The semi-finals were broadcast as two separate programmes while the finals of both Junior and Senior competitions were broadcast as one programme that can now be watched on  BBC iPlayer  until 6th May.

Alternatively, the programme can be downloaded and watched for up to a month after which it will no longer play and the file will need to be deleted to free up disc space.

Clips from this and the two previous programmes can also be seen on the Songs Of Praise website.


The Songs Of Praise programme for the evening of Sunday 12th February featured David Grant reviewing the past 10 years of the School Choir Of The Year competition.   Russell popped up very briefly a couple of times in his capacity as one of the recent judges and you can get a flavour of the inside of the Lyric Theatre at The Lowry from several shots of David in there.

The programme is available to watch on  BBC iPlayer  until 19th February.   >


The earlier announcement…

The BBC has announced that Russell will be one of the judges of this year’s Songs Of Praise Young Choir Of The Year competition.

Free tickets  to the recording sessions to be held at The Lowry, Salford, over the weekend of 11th and 12th February can be obtained from the BBC, details below.

Note the closing date for applications will be 1st February 2012.

From the BBC website –

School Choir Of The Year Competition 2012

School Choir Of The Year Competition 2012


We are pleased to announce that the 10th Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year competition takes place at The Lowry Theatre in Salford in February 2012.

If you would like free tickets to be at either recording and enjoy the performances of the young semi finalists from the around UK, then you can apply now.

The Junior School Choir competition will be recorded during the afternoon of Saturday February 11th and the Senior School Choir competition will be recorded during the afternoon of Sunday 12th February, 2012.

Aled Jones will present the competition and the judges will be David Grant, Suzi Digby and Russell Watson.

Tickets are limited in number so in order not to miss out please get in touch as soon as possible.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you there.

If you would like to attend a recording you can contact Songs of Praise in any of these ways:

Phone: 0161 335 8429 (leave a message on the answer phone)
Write to: Songs of Praise Ticket Office, 1st Floor Dock House, MediaCityUK, Salford, M50 2LH.

When requesting tickets please state your name, address, telephone number and how many tickets you would like to apply for.

Closing date for ticket applications is 1st February 2012.


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