Portsmouth Shantymen aim to swim, not sink in choirmaster Gareth Malone’s new TV show

The Portsmouth Shantymen
The Portsmouth Shantymen

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A GROUP of shanty singers will be going up against choirs from across the region in a bid to win the latest show hosted by choirmaster Gareth Malone.

Previous episodes of the The Choir: Gareth’s Best In Britain, have pitted choirs from Scotland, the Midlands and the south west against each other. Tonight is the turn of the south east, featuring the Portsmouth Shantymen.

In the latest episode, which is broadcast at 9pm on BBC Two, the Shantymen go head to head with a Battersea beatbox academy, a choir comprised of NHS staff and a group of Reading sixth
formers put together by their maths teacher.

Retired IT worker Pete Luscombe has been a member of the Shantymen since the mid-1980s. He is joined by Nick Gough, Pete Watkinson, John Lansley and Olly Alsford.

They got involved after hearing about the show from Shanty UK, an organisation promoting maritime music.

Pete, 61, said: ‘I suggested it to the other guys, half joking, thinking they wouldn’t go for it, but they were all really keen and it followed from there.’

After a successful audition, Gareth came to Portsmouth and the group were filmed performing on the deck of HMS Warrior in the Historic Dockyard for their section.

The group are not saying how they got on but Pete added: ‘I’m looking forward to watching it myself because we’ve not seen the footage yet, so I’ll be filled with trepidation too.

‘We all love singing shanties and maritime songs, we try to keep that tradition going.

‘The group initially started sort of by accident, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that we have had great fun and some things that we would never have done otherwise.’

Gareth Malone said: ‘I’m thrilled to bring a fresh search for the musical rough diamonds among the British public to BBC Two. Having discovered the best a cappella groups the nation has to offer last year, this series goes one step further, pitting groups from all types of music head to head.’

You can catch the Shantymen in action on Friday at the Fishbourne Centre in Fishbourne, where they are performing as part of a night in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Doors open 7pm. Tickets cost £15. For more information go to fishbournecentre.org.uk
n Five naval officers from HMS Queen Elizabeth came close to quiz show success yesterday on ITV’s new quiz show, Tenable. Falling short in the final round, ‘The Shipmates’ took on a series of top ten list questions but missed out on the £22,000 cash prize.