What is television programme The Piano?

The Piano is a new talent show that will profile the best amateur pianists in the UK, performing on pianos at four stations around the country: London St Pancras, Birmingham New Street, Leeds and Glasgow Central. Unbeknown to the contestants, though, it's not just a documentary: it's also a competition. The contestants are secretly being judged and the four best of them - one from each station - will perform at the Royal Festival Hall to an audience of thousands in the final episode.


The official teaser goes: 'From nonagenarians who have been playing for 80 years to 12-year-olds who have never played in public before, those who taught themselves to play the classics in lockdown to players who feel the music, composing pieces about their life experiences, and someone with no sight who against all the odds has mastered Chopin, commuters in train stations across the country will be stopped in their tracks as heartfelt, emotional and uplifting performances take place.'

When is The Piano on?

The show starts at 9pm on Wednesday 15 February on Channel 4 and will air across 5 weeks.

Who is presenting it?

Claudia Winkleman, who has presented programmes ranging from Strictly Come Dancing to The Great British Sewing Bee. She also presented the BBC's recent hit show, The Traitors, which was a perfect fit for her distinctive brand of sharp humour and gothic chic.

Who are the judges?

The judges are Chinese superstar pianist Lang Lang (pictured) and the French-Lebanese pop star Mika.

What are the contestants like?

The contestants, whose ages span from 6 to 95, come from all walks of life, and play all sorts of music, including jazz, pop, classical, boogie-woogie and hip-hop.

Speaking to The Guardian, Winkleman, Lang Lang and Mika revealed their favourite contestants. For Winkleman, it was Jared, a 21-year-old mechanic. 'He came along to St Pancras in oil-stained denim shorts on his break from fixing trucks,' she said. 'He put his spanner down on top of the piano, started playing and the whole place exploded.'

Mika was 'fascinated by a guy called Sean. He was 26, on the autistic spectrum and the opposite of Jared in many ways: prickly, unapproachable, with huge mood swings. But when he plays piano, it melts your heart.' As for Lang Lang: 'Mine was this amazing girl named Lucy,' he said. 'She’s blind and developmentally delayed but music has changed her life. She can’t hold a conversation but communicates through the piano. When she plays, you see the whole universe within her.'

What are the judges looking for?

In his interview with The Guardian, Lang Lang said: 'Whether it’s a little kid or an octogenarian, I want to feel their soul and learn their story. Many pianists play very well technically but it’s mechanical.' Meanwhile, Mika commented: 'Amateurs bring honesty. They wear their heart on their sleeve in a way professionals just aren’t able to do.'

The Piano starts at 9pm on 15 February on Channel 4.


Photo: Getty


Hannah Nepilova is a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine. She has also written for The Financial Times, The Times, The Strad, Gramophone, Opera Now, Opera, the BBC Proms and the Philharmonia, and runs The Cusp, an online magazine exploring the boundaries between art forms. Born to Czech parents, she has a strong interest in Czech music and culture.