Audrey and Phil’s Big Challenge

8 June 2010

Inspiration Leeds recently welcomed two new but temporary members for a couple of rehearsals, as part of a television project that will see the choir featured on The Biography Channel in August and September.

A two-man camera crew followed Audrey and Phil Chawner as Gary put them through their paces among the sopranos and basses. Both were understandably nervous at first, and Phil didn’t look as though he was enjoying himself too much until half-way through the first session, when his shoulders visibly relaxed and a little smile broke through.

Meanwhile Audrey threw herself into the warm-ups and quickly picked up the rhythm of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, tapping her feet and throwing in little hand movements. She said she and Phil had been in a choir long ago, but hadn’t sung for years. She certainly seemed to hit the right notes reasonably easily.

The couple and their daughters Emma and Samantha had been selected last year for a television lifestyle overhaul, helping them to improve some of their habits, lose weight and become fitter with advice from the programme’s panel of experts.

The series, ‘Lorraine Kelly’s Big Fat Challenge’, won top ratings, and The Biography Channel commissioned a further series about the Chawner family’s efforts to turn their lives around.

The programmes are produced by Leeds-based Daisybeck Productions, and they’ll show how Phil and Audrey have tried to make their lives healthier in the obvious ways like watching what they eat and drink and taking more exercise, but also improving things in other ways, including taking up hobbies like singing.

By the second session Phil and Audrey had obviously done some homework, and fitted quite seamlessly into their voice parts. After a two-hour session they, Gary, Andy and the choir had been filmed from almost every conceivable angle, and Gary had been interviewed about the couple’s progress, giving them a glowing report.

Before the end of the rehearsal, Emma and Samantha surprised Phil and Audrey with a little cake for Phil’s 55th birthday, and the family’s emotion brimmed over as Inspiration not only sang ‘Happy Birthday’, but also gave a rendition of our old favourite ‘Candle On The Water’, as a tribute to Phil and Audrey for being good sports.

The couple were filmed again, joining in the Singing Day led by Inspiration at Horbury. It was a fantastic and well-attended event just like last year’s, with people of all ages learning a few of our songs and enjoying a mega-performance to end the day.
Phil and Audrey said they’d thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and left determined to find a choir closer to their home in Wigan that they can attend regularly.

The Inspiration magic had obviously done its job. Anyone who’s experienced the extraordinary feelgood factor of singing in a choir will be hoping that the Chawners will find the same joy.

By Sheena Hastings

Audrey and Phil Chawner The film crew at Inspiration's rehearsal