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Vicky McClure stars in BBC/ OU co-production Our Dementia Choir

Our Dementia Choir follows ‘Line of Duty’ actor, Vicky McClure as she takes a deeply personal journey to discover the true extent of music’s power in helping to address the challenges of living with dementia. The first episode of the two-part series, co-produced by the BBC and The Open University’s Broadcast and Partnerships team airs on Thursday 2 May at 8pm on BBC One.

With her own experience of dementia through caring for her Nana Iris and her subsequent role with the Alzheimer’s Society, Vicky has seen first-hand how music and singing had supported dementia patients and those who love and care for them. Now, Vicky aims to spread the word on a much bigger scale.

In this series she meets the scientists exploring pioneering techniques and cutting edge scanning technology in order to reveal how music can stimulate a brain damaged by dementia. By bringing the choir together in just three months they’ll put on the show of their lives, with the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy in our understanding of how music therapy can help people with dementia.

OU Academic Consultants, Dr Geraldine Boyle, Senior Lecturer in Health and Dr Terence Curran, Honorary Associate in Music have been involved in advising and shaping the production. They’ve also worked on free online OpenLearn resources to continue the learning journey, including an interactive quiz to test the connection between your memory and music.

Dr Geraldine Boyle said:

“Our Dementia Choir is important in illustrating that music can give people with dementia a means of expressing themselves when they find talking difficult. There is greater understanding now that making music, whether as individuals or in groups, is a means of providing a link to long-established identities when dementia can ordinarily make one’s sense of identity frail and uncertain. Singing groups and choirs with people with dementia have been developing across the UK – find out if there is one near you and join up and discover the pleasure that music can bring to your life.

Dementia is a challenging condition for which there is currently no cure. However, even with the condition, it is possible to have a good quality of life. Whether you live at home or in a care home, listening to and making music can add joy and bring hope.”

Dr Terence Curran commented:

“Whilst there is no cure, the programme demonstrates that music can be highly beneficial to those living with dementia. Music plays an important part in our lives – it accompanies many significant life events, such as weddings and funerals, and is an essential component of most social gatherings. For people living with dementia, music can help revive memories, even of distant and apparently long-forgotten events. It can offer hope and a renewed sense of dignity – and reconnect the people and places that have shaped a life.”

The first episode of the two-part series will air on BBC One at 8pm on Thursday 2 May, with the second episode the following week on Thursday 9 May.

Find out more

For free learning resources visit the Our Dementia Choir OpenLearn site

About studying Mental Health Nursing at The Open University

  • Commissioned by Dr Caroline Ogilvie
  • Academic Consultants: Dr Geraldine Boyle (Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies) and Dr Terence Curran (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences).
  • Media Fellows: Dr Mathijs Lucassen (Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies) and Dr Chris Williams (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences).
  • Broadcast Project Manager: Leslie Jewell
  • Digital Content Producer: Daniel Browne

About Author

Hannah is part of the Media Relations Team at The Open University, working with the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. With experience both agency and in-house, Hannah has worked on campaigns for a number of large corporate companies and brands, including RBS, NatWest, Travelodge, Audible, AA and the Royal Academy of Dance. She has completed a Masters in Publishing Studies from Oxford Brookes, and enjoys photography, reading and going to the theatre.

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