“I was blubbing within seconds of the first piano player striking up”

The Piano

The Piano, Channel 4

“Sometimes I can watch a whole episode of The Piano and remain completely dry of eye. Not a droplet. Last night was not one of those occasions. I was blubbing within seconds of the first piano player striking up, and continued pretty much until the end.”
Carol Midgley, The Times

“The Piano isn’t really about music, it’s about good stories. Last night’s undoubted star was modest Duncan, 80, a retired solicitor who had a love story with a poignant twist. Was it the best performance? He had stiff competition, but it was certainly the most moving — and an example of how music can change lives for the better.”
Roland White, Daily Mail

“Nobody seems clear on what the criteria are for anointing a winner. Is it the amount of raw talent on show? Comparison between the single performances? Or the heart-tugging nature of their backstories? It seems to be a bit of all of these, but applied thoroughly inconsistently. Claudia herself seems to have sway over the judges too. It all makes The Piano feel a bit empty. Of course, the formula still works well enough overall. Even the fragments of music we get, and the love people express for it, suffice to get the tear ducts juicing. But with a little more thought, a little more bravery, a little more confidence in the amount of rigour and knowledge its audience would willingly bear, it could be so much more.”
Lucy Mangan, The Guardian

“We have seen this many, many times on The X Factor. The auditionees have been chosen for their back stories, not their talent. Which is not to say they don’t have talent – nine-year-old Ethan, for example, was brilliant. But the music was clearly secondary in the producers’ eyes. On top of that, there are too many singers. This is supposed to be a piano-playing contest, not a singing show. Like I said, though, Winkleman is a smart cookie. And she knows that viewers love emotional stories, and that those stories will eventually overpower any cynicism.”
Anita Singh, the Telegraph

“I really tried to get on board. I liked all the people featured. But even the most moving personal stories cannot make me enjoy this, the most anodyne fluff you could possibly conceive of in dreams so un-wild even Carl Jung couldn’t read into them.”
Emily Bootle, The i

Red Eye, ITV

“If you haven’t already binged Red Eye and expected things to get less deranged in episode two, bad luck. It doubled down on its bonkersness. It’s still strangely entertaining, though.”
Carol Midgley, The Times

When Evil Came to Rochdale, Channel 5

“This documentary was well-made from one perspective – interviews with the lawyers who represented the families – and included academics versed in the subject. But no social worker or council leader appeared to explain their actions.”
Anita Singh, The Telegraph