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Line of Duty's Vicky McClure joins a choir for people with dementia


At first glance they look like any other choir passionately joining their voices in song.

But these singers are all living with dementia and many struggle to speak and perform basic tasks. 

The inspiring group feature in a two-part documentary with Line Of Duty star Vicky McClure, 35, exploring how music can have a profound impact on the condition.  

Investigation: Line Of Duty star Vicky McClure, 35, explores how music can ease dementia in a two-part BBC documentary. She discusses her experience of filming the programme with the Radio Times

Investigation: Line Of Duty star Vicky McClure, 35, explores how music can ease dementia in a two-part BBC documentary. She discusses her experience of filming the programme with the Radio Times 

The 20 singers – aged between 31 and 87 – were brought together by the actress after the heartbreak of losing her grandmother Iris to the condition in 2015, something she discusses in this week’s edition of the Radio Times. 

The documentary follows them as they practise for three months before performing for 2,000 people at the Royal Concert Hall in Vicky’s home town of Nottingham.

Vicky, who believes music can transform the lives of those living with dementia, said: ‘My nana was very bold, bright. She had a cracking sense of humour, a very dirty laugh. The dementia stripped all that. It leaves the shell of you.

‘I watched her personality slowly fade away – it’s one of the hardest things to watch a family member go through.  

Heartwarming: The 20 singers – aged between 31 and 87 – were brought together by the actress after the heartbreak of losing her grandmother Iris to the condition in 2015

Heartwarming: The 20 singers – aged between 31 and 87 – were brought together by the actress after the heartbreak of losing her grandmother Iris to the condition in 2015

Uplifting: The documentary follows them as they practise for three months before performing for 2,000 people at the Royal Concert Hall in Vicky's home town of Nottingham

Uplifting: The documentary follows them as they practise for three months before performing for 2,000 people at the Royal Concert Hall in Vicky’s home town of Nottingham

‘But I also saw how music helped, changing her mood and, for a while, bringing us back the old Nana.’ 

The choir learnt the Beatles’ hit In My Life, which Vicky explained has a special meaning for her after losing her grandmother.

As the group sang the emotional lyrics ‘there are places I’ll remember, all my life, though some have changed’, there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience. 

It was the same for the wife of one singer. Reduced to tears, she said: ‘It’s too close to home.’ 

Smiles: Vicky, who believes music can transform the lives of those living with dementia, said: 'My nana was very bold, bright. She had a cracking sense of humour, a very dirty laugh'

Smiles: Vicky, who believes music can transform the lives of those living with dementia, said: ‘My nana was very bold, bright. She had a cracking sense of humour, a very dirty laugh’

Emotional: Vicky insisted she did not want to take a genetic test to determine if she has an increased risk of dementia

Emotional: Vicky insisted she did not want to take a genetic test to determine if she has an increased risk of dementia

During the documentary, Vicky is asked whether she is fearful about getting dementia.

But she insisted she did not want to take a genetic test to determine if she has an increased risk of dementia. 

‘You have got to live your life and enjoy every day,’ she said. 

One of those taking part is father-of-two Daniel Bradbury, who at 31 has only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s. 

Heartfelt: The choir also learnt the Beatles' hit In My Life, which Vicky explained has a special meaning for her after losing her grandmother

Heartfelt: The choir also learnt the Beatles’ hit In My Life, which Vicky explained has a special meaning for her after losing her grandmother

Lovely: During the documentary, he and his wife Jordan are treated to a wedding party by Vicky and the choir who perform a moving rendition of Ben E King's Stand By Me

Lovely: During the documentary, he and his wife Jordan are treated to a wedding party by Vicky and the choir who perform a moving rendition of Ben E King’s Stand By Me

During the documentary, he and his wife Jordan are treated to a wedding party by Vicky and the choir who perform a moving rendition of Ben E King’s Stand By Me.   

Daniel, who was diagnosed just after his twins’ first birthday, said: ‘It’s difficult day to day. Certain things happen every day – me forgetting what I’ve done, and also what I have to do.’

Interview: Read the full interview with Vicky in this week's Radio Times

Interview: Read the full interview with Vicky in this week’s Radio Times

The former drummer had to give up music as well as his engineering career after being diagnosed with the same condition that killed his father aged 36.

He now hopes to take part in any research that could help with treatment or a cure. 

The documentary shows the singers training with choral director Mark De-Lisser, performing hits such as Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations. 

They are also joined by singers from the Kingdom Choir who performed Stand By Me at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last year.

Although members of the choir experience improvements during the documentary, Vicky said their deterioration since filming is ‘frightening’.

She added: ‘There have of course been changes in people since we filmed. Some are in homes now and they are all deteriorating, rapidly for some.

‘I can tell when people recognise who I am and when they’re just being polite. It’s horrible.’ 

Read the full interview with Vicky in this week’s Radio Times. Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure is on BBC1 on May 2.

Inspiring: The documentary shows the singers training with choral director Mark De-Lisser, performing hits such as Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations

Inspiring: The documentary shows the singers training with choral director Mark De-Lisser, performing hits such as Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations

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