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PAUL WHITELAW: Pitch perfect with The Piano

Paul takes us through the pick of the programmes for the week ahead.

Harry playing the piano, in The Piano.
Harry playing the piano, in The Piano.

The Piano – Wednesday, Channel 4, 9pm

Imagine, if you can, a far more benign version of Britain’s Got Talent. That’s basically what we’re dealing with here. Claudia Winkleman travels around Britain to showcase the prowess of those non-professional musicians who gravitate towards free-to-use pianos in public places. Her odyssey begins at London’s St Pancras train station. Unbeknownst to the players, they’re being observed by the classical pianist Lang Lang and ‘00s hitmaker Mika. Each week they choose a favourite, who will eventually join them on stage at the Royal Festival Hall. The Piano is unabashedly sentimental at times, but its heart is in the right place. No one is belittled, and you may find yourself wowed by some of the talent on display.

The Agency: Unfiltered – Monday, BBC Scotland, 10pm

Amy and Kirsten of The Agency . Image: BBC.

Amy and Kirsten are the owners of Scotland’s largest influencer agency. They represent over 20 successful clients. In this new series, we take a peek into their social media-savvy world. Now, you could argue that the entire concept of influencing is utterly cynical, hollow and depressing. You could also argue that these kids are making an honest living in the belly of the capitalist beast. They’ve spied an opportunity and run with it. Good luck to ‘em. Amy, Kirsten and their clients come across as nice, unpretentious people. The Agency: Unfiltered will never be mistaken for a probing critique of the Zeitgeist. It’s rather stilted and contrived, but it means no harm in the grand scheme of things.

First Dates Valentine’s – Tuesday, Channel 4, 10pm

Fred Sirieix and his colleagues presumably regard Valentine’s Day as a sacred occasion. Their very own Prosecco-fuelled Rapture. In this year’s love-happy special, our affable matchmakers play host to a ‘clubbing queen’ who’s grown tired of over-keen men, a Swedish baker who initially bonds with her date over a shared love of singing and ballet, and a woman who hasn’t dated since her arranged marriage dissolved a decade ago. We also meet Erin, a special effects make-up artist with cerebral palsy. Whenever she mentions her condition to potential online daters, they tend to disappear. Erin experiences her first ever blind date tonight. As always, cynics aren’t invited. First Dates is a nice little show.

Untold: Cheat Detectives: The Loyalty Test – Tuesday, Channel 4, 11:05pm

Preview copies weren’t available, but this sounds like the troubling Yin to First Dates’ fluffy Yang. A documentary, it delves into a murky online phenomenon driven by influencers doggedly devoted to exposing infidelity. But are their motives sincere? Do they really care about the relationships they’re investigating, or are they exploiting people for lucrative hits and views? Reporter Daisy Maskell questions the ethics of this growing trend. Her interviewees include a popular TikToker who is generating content based on a hashtag that’s been viewed over one billion times. Maskell also speaks to one of the TikToker’s clients, as they put their boyfriend through the test.

Scotland’s Greatest Escape – Wednesday, BBC Scotland, 10pm

Grado & JJ Chalmers head off on their travels to find some unique Scottish holiday destinations. Image: Red Sky Productions/Alan Peebles.

Scotland is a beautiful, scenic country. You’ve probably noticed. So no wonder BBC Scotland knocks out travelogues at such a rapid rate of knots. It’s all on their doorstep. In this good-natured series, hosts JJ Chalmers and Grado spend time with viewers who took part in a poll to find Scotland’s best holiday destinations. A panel of experts take notes from afar. This week’s escapers are lifelong pals Karen and Karen, who sample the charms of some luxurious lodges in the Angus countryside. They also enjoy a bespoke overnight cruise around the west coast of Scotland, before winding up in an Ayrshire castle. Falconry and archery ensue. Not at the same time, of course, that would be hideous.

Prue and Danny’s Death Road Trip – Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm

Prue Leith with her son and Danny Kruger.

The nation’s favourite cake-maker Prue Leith supports assisted dying. Her son, the Conservative MP Danny Kruger, is against it. In this programme, they take a trip around the USA and Canada. As you may be aware, assisted dying is legal in Canada. Leith first became aware of this debate when her brother endured a very slow and painful death. She believes that people should be allowed to leave this mortal coil with dignity. Kruger maintains that any potential change to UK legislation could lead to the abuse of vulnerable people. They meet a woman whose parents died peacefully together at a time of their choosing, and a doctor who insists that Canadian legislation has gone too far.

The National Comedy Awards For Stand Up to Cancer 2023 – Friday, Channel 4, 9pm

Tom Allen clutching his 2021 Comedy Award.

Your deserving nominations this year include Am I Being Unreasonable?, Derry Girls, Ghosts, Would I Lie to You? and Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing. Ricky Gervais’ egregious After Life has presumably been included due to some sort of unfortunate admin error. This awards ceremony was a must-see TV event in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, an unpredictable live event starring famous comedians in various states of inebriation. Julian Clary’s rude remark about Norman Lamont? Spike Milligan’s impudent message to Prince Charles? It all happened here, folks. The Comedy Awards are a slicker affair these days, so don’t expect any wild surprises along those lines, but at least it’s all held in aid of a good cause.