20th January 2023

I don’t usually watch Michael McIntyre’s ‘Big Show’ on TV, but caught a repeat, and the item ‘The Unexpected Star’ where Alan, a young neighbour of Ann Wilkins – a retired lady, blind since birth – nominated her for this spot in the show. Ann thought she was recording an interview in a radio studio about her wonderful singing for her neighbours during the Covid lockdowns. She was really backstage in London’s Theatre Royal! Then Michael McIntyre appeared, asked her if she would sing on stage, and she agreed. Asked who she would most like to sing with, she said Bryn Terfel, the renowned Welsh bass-baritone. Only when McIntyre brought her onto the stage before the 2,000-strong audience, did Bryn Terfel himself appear, and at the show’s end, after backstage rehearsal, Ann sang a duet with her hero, to a standing ovation.

This reminded me of the old TV programme ‘This Is Your Life’, when some unsuspecting person, usually well-known, was whisked away to the studio to have their life story told. Occasionally, though, the ‘star’ was a lifeboatman, nurse, foster-parent, charity-worker, and the like – ordinary people we had never heard of who’d done extraordinary things, worthy of celebration – the kind of people who deserve recognition in an age when many of the famous are such for no good reason.

I like to imagine that when we get to heaven, many such unsung saints will be revealed to have been the real heroes of the piece – ‘for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven’.

David Bell