The Piano on Channel 4: what is the talent contest, who are the judges and when is season 2?

27 February 2024, 13:28

Judges Mika and Lang Lang join host Claudia Winkleman for TV talent show The Piano
Judges Mika and Lang Lang join host Claudia Winkleman for TV talent show The Piano. Picture: Channel 4

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Channel 4’s piano talent show, judged by superstar pianist Lang Lang and pop singer Mika, has been renewed for two more series and a Christmas special.

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The Piano is a TV talent competition on Channel 4, all about the joys of playing the 88 keys.

The contest, which was ‘won’ in March 2023 by the young blind virtuoso, Lucy Illingworth, looks for the UK’s top amateur pianists, in four of the best-known modern settings for the instrument – London St Pancras, Birmingham New Street, Leeds and Glasgow Central train stations.

As the amateur piano players share their stories and music with the public, their playing is secretly adjudicated by pop star Mika, and superstar Chinese virtuoso, Lang Lang. And it all culminates in a grand concert finale at the Royal Festival Hall.

Channel 4 has now confirmed that The Piano will return for two new series and a Christmas special. It was a huge success for the TV network, becoming its best-rating new format since 2017 and boasting an average of 2.7 million viewers.

Here’s everything you need to know about the TV talent show centred around the king of instruments.

Read more: Blind 13-year-old pianist’s stunning Chopin nocturne performance leaves Lang Lang speechless

The Piano will culminate in a grand concert finale at London’s Royal Festival Hall
The Piano will culminate in a grand concert finale at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Picture: Channel 4

How can I watch The Piano?

Series one is streaming now on Channel 4, with two new series and a Christmas special to come.

Read more: Isata Kanneh-Mason and Classic FM’s Tim Lihoreau play charming duet at St Pancras station piano

Who are the judges for The Piano?

The two judges in The Piano are superstar pianist Lang Lang and pop singer Mika, who secretly adjudicate the pianists’ playing at the train station pianos.

Lang Lang told The Guardian of his delight at being involved in a high-profile TV programme centred around the piano. “TV has never really had a piano competition accessible to everyone,” he said.

“We’ve had professional contests or series for vocalists but never just piano. This instrument really is for everybody. Piano connects people, it touches hearts. This is the sort of show I’ve always wanted to do.”

Mika, previously a judge on the Italian X Factor and the French version of The Voice, told The Guardian that amateur pianists would bring “honesty” to the talent show. “They wear their heart on their sleeve in a way professionals just aren’t able to do,” the singer added.

For Lang Lang, playing in train stations rather than concert halls makes it “much more casual and spontaneous”, and brings an element of surprise among the audience. Be they a busy commuter, a stressed parent or a crying child, they all have the capacity to be immediately calmed or delighted by the sound of a piano.

The pianist also hopes it might inspire people to take up the instrument. “I’m pretty sure more people will be interested in playing piano after this show,” says Lang Lang. “It shows the sheer joy of music, no matter who you are.”

Read more: Lang Lang and Gina Alice play a stunning husband and wife piano duet

Claudia Winkleman to host The Piano, taking place at four of the UK's busiest train stations
Claudia Winkleman to host The Piano, taking place at four of the UK's busiest train stations. Picture: Channel 4

Who is the host of The Piano?

The Piano, which comes from the makers of The Great British Bake Off, will be hosted by TV presenter Claudia Winkleman (The Traitors).

Who are the contestants in The Piano?

The Piano showcases pianistic talent from across the generations, with the ages of contestants spanning from six to 95.

As they play music across the worlds of classical, jazz, hip-hop and house, the contestants will be judged on their technical ability, as well as their charisma and passion.

In March 2023, the four finalists were 13-year-old Lucy from West Yorkshire, who was crowned as delivering the ‘winning’ performance of series one, 25-year-old Jay from the Isle of Wight, 27-year-old Sean from Edinburgh and 26-year-old Danny from Manchester.

“In a world full of wannabes seeking their moment in the limelight, The Piano was a breath of fresh air. It celebrated ordinary people doing something extraordinary for the sheer love of it,” said Channel 4’s chief creative office Ian Katz.

“From the 94-year-old widower who played in Glasgow station to find company, to Lucy, the remarkable 13-year-old who stole the ‘nation’s hearts’. It took viewers on a remarkable emotional roller coaster and I’m delighted that it will be coming back from more British stations, next year.”

Read more: Lang Lang astonished by 94-year-old pianist’s ‘powerful’ concerto at Glasgow station

Lang Lang, Claudia Winkleman and Mika star in talent show 'The Piano'
Lang Lang, Claudia Winkleman and Mika star in talent show 'The Piano'. Picture: Channel 4

When is season 2 of The Piano out?

Shortly after its hugely successful first season, The Piano was confirmed for a second and third season, as well as a Christmas special.

Claudia Winkleman is set to return for season two, alongside judges Lang Lang and Mika. A specific date hasn’t been announced for the series, but it’s anticipated to arrive in 2024 and consist of seven episodes, which will be filmed in new iconic locations as well as those that featured in the first series.

The Christmas special has already been filmed in London’s King’s Cross railway station, and the second series was recently spotted filming in Manchester Piccadilly train station, for an episode that will show on Channel 4 in the New Year.

For blissful piano music in the evenings, join Ritula Shah and Myleene Klass for Calm Classics on Classic FM, every night from 10pm–1am. Listen on Global Player.