Claudia Winkleman's surprising rule on set of Channel 4 hit The Piano

Whether she's covered in sequins on Strictly Come Dancing or hosting a funeral on The Traitors, Claudia Winkleman is the undisputed Queen of TV.

So it's no surprise that Channel 4's unassuming reality show The Piano became a huge success with Claud at the helm - even though she claims not to have a scintilla of musical talent herself, admitting: "I know nothing about music, I'm not allowed to sing Happy Birthday in my own house."

The Piano sees undiscovered pianists showcase their talent on public pianos across the UK in iconic locations while Claudia, 52, looks on with classical pianist Lang Lang and musical whizz Mika, judging.

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman hosts Channel 4 reality show The Piano -Credit:LORNA ROACH PHOTOGRAPHY

She's the beating heart of the show, but for Claudia, her skills start and end with contestants and cameras. “I'm not allowed to touch a piano," she admits, much to Mika and Lang's amusement.

This doesn't mean she hasn't tried her hand at music in the past, though. Mum-of-three Claudia recalls: "I wanted to learn the trumpet because I thought it was a good idea, but no."

Mika, 40, agrees with Claudia and backs up her claims that she is not musically gifted. Laughing, he brands her "the worst singer you've ever heard in your life" - a title Claudia does not object to being given. Lang, 41, attempts to soften the blow, insisting that while Claudia doesn't have much talent, she does possess an "amazing sense of great music".

Claudia winkleman
The TV presenter admits she is not musically gifted -Credit:LORNA ROACH PHOTOGRAPHY

Claudia, Mika and Lang are an unlikely trio, but it's quite clear they make a great team. The three stars bounce off one another while chatting away about The Piano, which Mika brands a "little beautiful project". It's obvious they've had great fun filming the second series of the Channel 4 show together, which has seen them travel across the country in search of Britain’s most talented, undiscovered pianists.

The heart-warming show first aired in February 2023 and proved to be a big hit with TV viewers, who quickly became invested in the UK-wide talent search. The first series averaged 2.7 million viewers per episode, making it Channel 4's best-rating new format since 2017.

It may seem like it was a no-brainer to recommission The Piano for another series, but the format of the show made it difficult to replicate. In the first series, Mika and Lang Lang would judge the amateur pianists from a secret spot, eventually selecting one performer from each location to take to the stage at a concert at the Royal Festival Hall. The competitive element was kept entirely secret from performers - they simply arrived in a UK train station and performed a piece in front of Claudia and passers-by.

Creating a second season meant the surprise element of the show would be completely eliminated, as pianists would know from the get-go what they were getting into, which raised concerns.

Claudia, Mika and Lang Lang
Claudia, Mika and Lang make a great team -Credit:Channel 4 / Nic Serpell-Rand

"We were a little worried, weren't we, all three of us?" Claudia admits. "Because what was so beautiful about the show, is what happens if people are playing and they don't know anyone's watching. And that is just unbelievably poetic."

She adds: "And then they knew so I was like, 'now they're gonna come in ball gowns and say under their breath Hey Mika’," prompting her co-stars to fall about laughing.

The team pushed past these doubts however, and managed to replicate the magic of the first season a second time round. Mika and Lang are still hidden away, allowing performers to forget they're being watched.

Presenter Claudia heaps praise on the production team, who have helped to maintain the magic. She says: "The whole way it's shot and produced is so beautiful. So it doesn't feel like a ‘hoo ha'. They walk in, they chat to me, they play. And they forget."

Claudia, Lang and Mika are full of stories from their travels across the UK. For the second series, they’ve visited stations such as Liverpool, Edinburgh and Cardiff in their quest to find the next piano-playing sensation. Every time, crowds gather without being prompted - no doubt intrigued by the sight of Claudia and a grand piano in the centre of a railway station.

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia shared her fears about creating a second series of The Piano -Credit: Ashley Coombes/REX/Shutterstock for Edinburgh TV Festival

Mika recalls breaking cover to help a young boy in Edinburgh who needed some extra encouragement, while Claudia recalls how she mistook a man for a proud father in one awkward moment.

"A girl played, and I could see a man in floods of tears and I assumed it was her dad. So I went up to him and I went, ‘you must be incredibly proud’ and he went ‘I’ve never met her in my life’."

One thing Claudia's noticed however, is that many pianists aren't taking part in the show to necessarily change the direction of their life - something which no doubt makes it all the more special in the age of reality TV fame and influencers.

"This year, lots of them don't want to continue with music," Claudia says. "Somebody, who played really beautifully, I said, ‘Do you want music to be part of your life?’ He said, 'Music will always be part of my life, but I love working insurance.’ That's fair enough. He has a lovely life.

"So they're not coming to ‘change my life’. I think they want to feel proud of themselves and they want to make their families and friends proud."

Lucy Illingworth won the first series of The Piano
Lucy Illingworth won the first series of The Piano -Credit:Leon Neal/Getty Images

13 year old Lucy Illingworth won the first series of The Piano, with her incredible performances stopping everyone in their tracks. She went on to perform at King Charles' Coronation Concert and ITV's Royal Variety.

So, how exactly do the team plan to top Lucy’s win? Simply, they don't. "We don’t need to," Mika states, while Claudia adds: "It’s not fair on Lucy."

The Piano season 2 will premiere on Sunday 28th April at 9pm on Channel 4.