Gareth Malone on beards, Christmas – and being so 2005

"I think I’m in a nice position because I do television about something I really love," says the choirmaster

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As a new two-part run of The Choir: Military Wives comes to BBC2, we talk to everyone’s favourite choirmaster Gareth Malone about his TV viewing habits and the Malone family Christmas…

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What can’t you miss on TV?
I’m catching up with Game of Thrones. I’ve just finished season three, and anyone who’s seen that knows it’s quite a shock. I love it, and you see this in The Wire, too, when no one is safe. I hate predictability in dramas; that drives me mental, and I like scheming and political machinations.

What makes you switch off ?
I don’t watch I’m a Celebrity, I’ve stopped watching The X Factor and I don’t watch The Voice. They ought to be right up my street, and I did watch them when they started. But I’ve reached my limit with them, maybe because I’ve been working in television for too long. I’m not interested any more, once you’ve seen 10 or 15 years of it.

What do you watch with your wife?
Our guilty pleasure is Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen NightmaresI quite admire Gordon and his on-screen presence. He fills the screen with his enormous energy.

What did you grow up watching?
I used to absolutely love Star Trek: the Next Generation, particularly Patrick Stewart. When I was about 14 or 15, Neighbours would finish at 6pm and I would turn over to BBC2 and watch that. Yes, I was a Trekkie, and I still love sci-fi. 

Who was your first TV crush?
Janet Ellis on Blue Peter. I was next to her on a table in a restaurant recently, but I didn’t dare go over. I used to like Jemima (yes, the rag doll) from Play School, too, but I was only three then.

What happens in the Malone household at Christmas?
There are no rules, but there is a lot of family. There’s also a lot of taping things, rather than watching them. Television doesn’t feature that heavily – it’s more big family walks and trying to entertain the children.

Any Christmas traditions?
I always really enjoy opening the door to carol singers and listening to the whole thing, even if it’s only a few teenagers. I’m always entertained when they sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas and they don’t know the second verse. I just stand there expectantly, waiting to see if they can see any irony in them singing to someone who works with television choirs, and them not knowing the words.

Is there any chance your beard might make a comeback?
Never say never. It might be a bit white now, but there were so many anti-ginger comments last year. I find it ridiculous that newspapers wrote stories about the beard. I even jointly won Beard of the Year. Forget the Bafta, it’s all about that. It might come back around Christmas as I’m not filming anything.

Do you worry you’ll get typecast as a choirmaster? Is there another side of you you’d like the public to see?But I am a choirmaster! Everyone worries about their next job. Nobody in the public eye thinks they’re totally secure. Even if you’re Judi Dench you probably worry. I do have that worry of the phone call when people say, “No thanks, thingy, whatever, was so 2005”.

But I’ve no immediate desires to do anything else. I think I’m in a nice position because I do television about something I really love. If I wasn’t on I’d be doing it anyway, it’s not like television came first. It would be a bit odd to totally change tack. I’m not planning on revealing my dancing talents, especially not since I had Craig Revel Horwood in one of my choirs. I’m not sure I’d want to put myself on the other side of the table to him. 

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The Choir – Military Wives returns to BBC Two tonight (16th December) at 9.00pm