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TV Work

My feature on TV show The Piano

The Piano is a much beloved TV show on Channel 4. I had the fortune to be considered for this programme. The production team had seen that I go touring with a piano and thought this would be perfect for the show. I still had to audition though, it's all about the piano playing, no matter how good your background story is. They apparently had over a thousand contestants and I made it to be on the show. This was such an honour.

So I spent my winter practising. I decided to play the Bumble Boogie for this. I knew I couldn't impress Lang Lang and Mika, them being such amazing pianists. So I thought I would just try and entertain them. This wouldn't be easy either, there are a lot of really interesting pianists on this show. But the Bumble Boogie is one of the best high energy pieces I know, It is fast and furious, and also really fun to both play and listen to. Showing folk that this piece exists means they might go and play it after watching the show. I thought this would be the ideal piece.


I am actually very grateful that this performance meant I would have to rehearse for months. This is something I should do before every tour and then never manage to do enough. There's always a photo exhibition to prepare or a cartoon to draw, and it's a tricky task to fit in any piano practise until I go touring in the summer. So this was an amazing opportunity to spend my winter practising my piano.

In the course of rehearsing and selecting my piece and then getting filmed at Waverley Station, the whole production and filming team was so nice. They made me feel really comfortable and at ease as much as possible. I couldn't have wanted for a nicer crew to work with and actually reckon these are the loveliest people on the planet.


At the station I was mighty nervous of course, and meeting the stars later was also a bit mind-blowing. We got to warm up on a piano in the Balmoral Hotel. This was nice, in particular as I got as many cups of tea as I wanted. My daughter Sophie had come along for support and this is where we chilled between filming interviews and the likes. Here we also got the chance to meet the other pianists and this was so special. People came with such varied musical experiences and from many different backgrounds. I made friends with a few people, and Mikey, Marta and Anjali even came to the pub with Sophie and me after filming was done. This was a very important part of the process, I mean, you have to go get a pint and a chat, it's good for your soul.

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Thank you

My gratitude goes to all who supported me and made all this a fun thing to do: the production and film team at Love Productions. Claudia, Lang Lang and Mika, such wonderful hosts. Channel 4 for green-lighting the kind of project that features pianists who do some kind of thing that's out of the box and special. The weather gods for being kind to us on the Royal Mile in February. Sam and Blake for helping load my piano. Vicky and Anja and Sophie for being super support, Marta and Ethan and Anjali and Mikey and all the other fabulous pianists on the show. And everybody in the pub who was endlessly optimistic that I could do it, whatever my secret project was that I wasn't allowed to talk about. You knew I was nervous, and you poured me wine and calmed me down. And a big thank you to everyone who watched the show and sent me such lovely messages after.

The Piano is hosted by Claudia Winkleman, and the stars listening to the pianists playing at the station are Mika and Lang Lang. I knew both of them from their musical publications and was super chuffed to meet them. My daughter and me used to dance around the room to Mika songs, so it was extra special that he was here, listening to me play.

Once they had concluded filming at the station they got in touch to film some background footage. For this the lovely film team came to my house for a home interview. We also loaded the piano into the van, so it could be filmed on the Royal Mile. The next week we met up  again, and this time we had sought permission to play on the Royal Mile and filmed the unloading action as well as me playing. The Royal Mile is a great place to busk but it was February! It was absolutely freezing. This never happened before and it won't happen again that I play my little streetpiano outdoors in winter. But I had promised my friend Vicky to say yes in case the film team asked. She thought the world should see this madness where you put a piano into a city centre and play it, then load it up again and drive away with it. So for Channel 4 this little piano came out of winter hibernation and it actually sounded really good : )

When we all got together in the room around the piano I had no idea who would get chosen to be finalist. I didn't really want to play the final concert, so I felt a little feature in the show would be the best thing that could happen to me. The winner was announced and, phew, it wasn't me. Concert stages are frightening for me, particularly solo piano ones. I rather play on the street where its busy and relaxed.

When the episode aired I found out that I had been selected as one of the potential finalists, and thought this was a big compliment. Lang Lang and Mika liking my music was such a nice thing to hear about, and them clapping at the end of my performance must be the proudest moment of my life so far.

I am so happy all this happened unexpectedly to me and will cherish my little stint on TV.

Next is Europe again, I will be touring with my little piano this summer and Claudia said she will come to Luxembourg with me. Channel 4 didn't air this, I guess they are doubtful she will keep her promise but I think we all know Claudia wants to come along on tour with me. She can help me unload my piano and then look after it while I park the van away, thanks very much.

- The Piano, season 2 episode 3 was broadcast by Channel 4 on 12/5/2024 at 9pm -

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