The Piano: release date, trailer, host, how it works and all you need to know
The Piano on Channel 4 will take everyday musicians from four UK train stations to the stage.
The Piano is the latest competitive series from the team behind The Great British Bake Off and The Great Pottery Throw Down; this time, we'll be championing unwitting, everyday musicians from across the UK and it's about to get underway.
In this five-part series hosted by The Traitors' Claudia Winkleman, amateur musicians who feel brave enough to sit down at pianos that have popped in four of the country's busy train stations will be tricked into thinking they're being filmed for a documentary.
Little do they know, they will actually have their performances secretly judged by a world-famous pianist and a singing sensation. One lucky contestant from each station will ultimately be given the chance to perform on one of London's most prestigious stages.
When we spoke to Claudia she said: "I love everything that Love Productions make [which includes The Great British Sewing Bee which Claudia presented from 2013-2016]. When they first approached me with the idea for The Piano in 2019 the series producer Richard said ‘Do you like the idea of people playing but they’re not on a pedestal? There’s no big ‘TA DA’ moment, it’s small, authentic and we just see how it goes?’ When they also said ‘We’ve got Lang Lang and Mika on board’, I was like, ‘I’m on that train to Glasgow or wherever they need me!’"
Here's what you need to know about The Piano...
The Piano release date
The Piano begins today (Wednesday, February 15) at 9 pm on Channel 4, with new episodes airing on a weekly basis, with the final episode airing on March 15.
How does The Piano work?
The Piano sees the team heading to various train stations across the UK—Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, and London St Pancras—where they'll be setting up cameras around pianos which have been set up for the public to sit down and play. The catch? Our unwitting contestants think they're being filmed as part of a documentary.
In actuality, their performances are being judged by singing sensation Mika and world-famous Chinese classical pianist, Lang Lang. Each episode will feature one of the four stations we mentioned above, where our judges will select one single performer to progress to the finale where they'll be performing in front of an audience of thousands as part of a special concert in London's Royal Festival Hall.
The Piano host
Fresh off the back of fronting the latest season of Strictly Come Dancing and the smash-hit BBC reality series, The Traitors, Claudia Winkleman is back on our screens as the host of The Piano.
During our chat with her, we asked what some of the most emotional moments were for her. She said: "I love the fact we were in a station and led by what was going on there. There was no studio, no producer counting down ‘In five, four…’ The bits I found most emotional were the small moments when people around just stopped to listen.
"I remember seeing a school trip with lots of little kids with their rucksacks and Tupperware just standing with their teacher, their eyes full of wonder listening to someone playing the piano. They loved it so much that the teacher decided they’d wait and take the next train instead."
Who are The Piano judges?
There are two musical maestros on hand for The Piano: Mika, and Chinese classic pianist Lang Lang.
Mika is an instantly recognizable name, thanks in no small part to his debut album "Life in Cartoon Motion" which contained songs like Grace Kelly, Lollipop, and Love Today and went on to sell more than 8.3 million copies. Outside of his pop career (where he's released five platinum-selling albums), Mika started out at the Royal Opera in London as a soprano, and he's gone on to serve as a judge on The X Factor Italy, The Voice France and co-hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in Milan in 2022.
Asked how he would describe The Piano, Mika said: "You’ve got this rare mix. It's so real, yet so magical. It's full of fantasy, warmth and tenderness. It’s romance in everyday reality – what I call the Amélie effect. You know that French movie? It's magical realism. In the midst of a bustling city and the most impersonal and transient environment you could possibly get — a train station — you have tenderness and love and real emotion. It happens so naturally and the gateway to that is the piano. Whether you're there in person or watching at home, it's just as powerful."
Lang Lang is a world-renowned classical pianist. He began playing at the age of two and entered Beijing's Central Musical Conservatory at 10 and has recorded everything from Bach's Goldberg Variations to feel-good classics from the Disney songbook, and played to an audience of two billion as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
Asked why he wanted to take part, Lang Lang said: "The Piano is the show I’ve been looking for my entire classical music career. I always wanted to have something like this on television — to tell the story of how music moves us and connects us with all sorts of people from different backgrounds. In this incredible setting — train stations — there was drama and surprises and real music. This show really has everything. I enjoyed working with the team from Love Productions and our wonderful host Claudia, who brings the deepest understanding to all the piano players of the show.
"I want to thank the team for having me. Through this show, I now know a lot of new repertoires, with people sharing so many songs that mean so much to British people and this is a big treasure for me."
The Piano: is there a trailer?
Yes, the trailer gives is an insight into some of the amazing musicians that will be appearing on the show, and the best bit of all is that they have absolutely no diea that they are being watched by Mika and Lang Lang!
You can watch the trailer below...
On Valentine's Day, MIKA released a longer teaser of the show. It focuses on Jay Eatwell, a contestant from the Isle of Wight and shows us MIKA and Lang Lang reacting to parts of his performance. He talks about how performing is a 'massive natural high', and he definitely surprised our two maestros, if this clip is anything to go by!
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Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows.
Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.
- Tess LamacraftSenior Writer for What's On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite week, Whattowatch.com