from Manchester Cathedral
CHRISTMAS NIGHT WITH THE STARS
introduced by Michael Parkinson
is often said that there is little worth watching on British
television. Even with all the high expectations of a couple
of days of high calibre viewing over Christmas, it usually transpires
to be a huge disappointment. This year was no different from
any other except for two truly magical moments. [These two programmes
were recorded earlier this month.]
Service 2003 from Manchester Cathedral
It is 11.25pm on Christmas Eve and all the little children are
wrapped up in bed, each determined to stay awake to witness
the safe arrival of Mr S Claus from Lapland. Don’t tell
anyone, but I am equally excited by the prospect of seeing Hayley
programme commences and we see a brief aerial shot of Manchester
in darkness except for its array of Christmas illuminations.
The camera now leads us into the cathedral to the sound of the
choir singing ‘Ding Dong Merrily On High’. During
the course of the service, many traditional carols will be sung,
interspersed with words from the Bishop of Manchester, the Archdeacon
of Manchester and several celebrities who will read lessons.
early on, there is an appearance by Aled Jones who sings ‘O
Holy Night’. Although this review is supposed to be for
Hayley, I cannot omit to mention this section by Aled. Not only
is it a magnificent performance of a beautiful song, but the
image of him singing in harmony with himself (in footage recorded
when he was fourteen) is truly inspirational. The same track
appears on one of his CDs, but to see them ‘both’
as well as hear them is an early highlight of the programme.
the opera band Amici Forever sing ‘Adeste Fidelis’
and ‘Whisper of Angels’; the latter being based
on Faure’s Pavane, Op 50, and both appearing on their
debut CD. This highly original group are great and I suggest
that their album is worthy of further investigation.
also see a soprano who is new to me, known simply as Izzy. She
sings ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’, the delightful Welsh
lullaby ‘Suo Gan’ and Schubert’s ‘Ave
Maria’, all of which are thoroughly enjoyable.
we come to our Hayley. The first we see of her is when, along
with five other celebrities in turn, she reads a short prayer
and it is noticeable how well she speaks. As we know, Hayley
has said that she doesn’t get particularly nervous but
this is a different situation from singing well-rehearsed songs.
Nevertheless, she looks totally confident and her speaking voice
is every bit as lovely as her singing one.
is now singing ‘Away In A Manger’. During the first
verse, we hear only her voice and the organ. For the second,
the choir are softly humming which is subtle but very effective.
The congregation join in for the final verse to raise the roof.
As always, Hayley looks as beautiful as she sounds.
sings ‘Silent Night’ to the sole accompaniment of
the organ throughout. Of all carols, I feel this one suits her
the best. I have seen her sing it live three times now and it
always has a great affect on my emotions in a way that no other
singer has ever achieved.
has been a thoroughly enjoyable performance from Hayley in one
of the few programmes that was a joy to watch.
Night With The Stars introduced by Michael Parkinson
those of you not familiar with the format of Michael Parkinson’s
shows, he usually chats informally with each guest which, in
itself, is usually highly entertaining. The guests, be they
singers, comics or whatever, will then be given a few minutes
to perform. Tonight the format is different. There is no chat,
merely a series of artists providing continuous entertainment.
celebrities appearing include (in no particular order) Denise
van Outen, Ronnie Corbett, Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne, Busted,
Victoria Beckham, Ricky Tomlinson, Emma Bunton, Lenny Henry,
Will Young, Enrique Iglesias, Jo Brand and The Kumars.
is pleasing to hear Michael Parkinson giving Hayley such a good
introduction pointing out that she has the fastest selling debut
classical album of all time. He delivers the last three words
with some force, which surely makes people take notice. So we
come to the real highlight of Christmas Day – to sit back
and enjoy a few minutes of Hayley. Much as a like her singing
‘Pokarekare Ana’, ‘Amazing Grace’ and
‘Wuthering Heights’, which are the most obvious
choices for a show like this, it would be nice to hear her sing
one of the other gorgeous songs from her amazing CD. What will
what a superb rendition she gives of ‘Hine e Hine’.
With an audio link from the television to the hi-fi, her now
familiar voice resounds around my lounge as it would if she
were really here (I imagine!). Perhaps the arrangement of the
backing vocals and instrumental accompaniment is less dynamic
than the version on the CD but that is no criticism of Hayley
whose voice sounds just perfect. For those of us who are familiar
with the song, this new arrangement is interesting but, for
those who have never seen or heard her, it may not impress them
quite so much. Pity.
there is a delightful sequence now; a long shot of Hayley bordered
by two close-ups of her. Initially it looks as though one of
the close-ups is a mirror image of the other but closer examination
determines that they are original shots from two different camera
angles. Three Hayleys at once – it must be Christmas!
is wearing a green full-length dress with a floral design in
pink, ultramarine and gold. I am not exactly a fashion guru
and usually take little notice of what people are wearing but,
for some reason, I have always believed that green would look
good on her. How right I was. She looks stunning.
this is wishful thinking but, to me, the applause at the end
of Hayley’s appearance seems louder than it has been for
anyone else. What a shame that she only gets to do one song.
Never mind, it is lovely to see her and, on a well-respected
show like ‘Parkinson’, and at prime time on Christmas
Day, the exposure can only be beneficial to her already superb
and rapidly growing profile. Hopefully it will encourage a few
more thousand people to rush out and buy Pure. Hayley deserves
every bit of success that is surely coming her way.
to all those little children who tried to stay awake on Christmas
Eve but fell asleep anyway and missed Father Christmas, perhaps
you can still see an equally special visitor who graced our
homes with her presence this year. Hayley. Ask Mum and Dad to
rewind the video and press ‘play’!
Reviews Menu 2003